A parent's quick solution to appease their restless or cranky children: Hand them an iPad or smartphone, and let the screens do the real work.

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But new commentary, published in the journal Pediatrics, would suggest that is not the best approach. It could, in fact, mess with the social-emotional development of a child.

"If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?" the researchers asked.

Dr. Steven Tobias, director of the Center for Child and Family Development in Morristown, agreed with the publication and insisted the habit can deprive children of learning crucial skills, such as how to engage in a meaningful conversation.

"When you give them a cellphone, they're playing with someone else's imagination," Tobias said. "They're not really learning how to create things on their own, how to occupy their own time."

Tobias likened technology to candy -- kids like it, and a little won't hurt them, but a steady diet could be detrimental.

Jack Aiello, professor of psychology at Rutgers University, said electronic devices, if used in the right manner, could be put to good use with young kids.

"There are extremely useful applications that are available for parents, especially in an interactive mode, that can be extremely helpful," Aiello said.

In addition to the main issue, the commentary recommended parents try any media content before making it available to their children. It also said joint use, by parents along with children, enhances an application's educational value.