Health

World Health Organisation has released first guidelines on how much screen time children should have

Not sure how much screen time you should allow your little ones to have?

The World Health Organisation has issued the first guidelines for parents on how much TV, video games and tablet or smart time they are recommended to expose their children to growing up.

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WHO recommendations on how much screen time kids should have

WHO advises children between the ages of two to four should have no more than one hour of ‘sedentary screen time’.

What’s more, the organisation recommends that children under two should not be exposed to any screen time.

“Achieving health for all means doing what is best for health right from the beginning of people’s lives,” says WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains.”

The release advises that children under five should spend less time watching screens or restrained in prams and seats and more time doing physical activity.

WHO believes less screen time will also help ensure kids have a better quality of sleep as well as greater improvements in physical and mental health.

“Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life,” says Dr Fiona Bull, programme manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases, at WHO.

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It seems these guidelines want to help parents encourage their children to have more playtime.

“What we really need to do is bring back play for children,” says Dr Juana Willumsen, WHO focal point for childhood obesity and physical activity.

“This is about making the shift from sedentary time to playtime, while protecting sleep.”

World Health Organisation has released first guidelines on how much screen time children should have

WHO screen time and sleep recommendations:

Under 12 month olds should:

  • Be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play; more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes in prone position (tummy time) spread throughout the day while awake.
  • Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g. prams/strollers, high chairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back). Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.
  • Have 14–17h (0–3 months of age) or 12–16h (4–11 months of age) of good quality sleep, including naps.

Children 1-2 years of age should:

  • Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, including moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better.
  • Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers, high chairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back) or sit for extended periods of time. For 1-year-olds, sedentary screen time (such as watching TV or videos, playing computer games) is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.
  • Have 11-14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times. 

Children 3-4 years of age should: 

  • Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes is moderate- to vigorous intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better.
  • Not be restrained for more than 1 hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers) or sit for extended periods of time. Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.
  • Have 10–13h of good quality sleep, which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times.

Screen time isn’t bad for babies – as long as they’ve got a friend, claims experts

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written by:

Jennifer Hartnett

Jennifer is our Senior News Producer with a passion for trending news and lifestyle stories. Jennifer spends the rest of her time running around after her son Kian.