(Source: AP News)
The World Health Organization has issued its first-ever set of guidelines for how much screen time children under the age of five should get: not very much and none at all for those under one.
The UN health agency said kids under five should not spend more than one hour watching screens — and that less is better. The guidelines are somewhat similar to advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. That group recommends children younger than 18 months should avoid screens other than video chats. It says parents of young children under two should choose “high-quality programming” with educational value and that can be watched with a parent to help kids understand what they’re seeing.
What about screen time benefits? Some groups said WHO’s screen time guidelines fail to consider the potential benefits of digital media.
Britain’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said the data available was too weak to allow its experts to set any thresholds for the appropriate level of screen time. “Our research has shown that currently there is not strong enough evidence to support the setting of screen time limits,” said Dr. Max Davie, the college’s Officer for Health Improvement. That may be true, but guidelines could also prevent the iPhone apocalypse and keep teenagers from becoming screenagers.
WHO did not specifically detail the potential harm caused by too much screen time, but said the guidelines — which also included recommendations for physical activity and sleep — were needed to address the increasing amount of sedentary behavior in the general population. It noted that physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for death and a contributor to the rise in obesity.
The agency said infants less than 1 year should spend at least half an hour every day on their stomachs and that older kids should get at least three hours of physical activity every day.