The World Health Organization issued strict new guidelines on one of the most problematic problems of family life in the 21st century on Wednesday: how much should parents use videos and online games to entertain, educate, or just distract their young children?  According to WHO, the answer is never for children in their first year of life and rarely in the second. People aged two to four, according to the International Health Authority, should not spend more than an hour a day in front of a screen.
The WHO considered the emerging – but not yet clarified ̵
Experts in child development say that acquiring language and social skills, typically through interaction with parents and others, are among the most important childhood cognitive tasks.
"Achieving health for all means making the most of your health right from the start," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. "Early childhood is a time of rapid development and a time when family life patterns can be adjusted to increase health."
But the guidelines, as well as those of other public health groups that have weighed up such issues in recent years, are trying to set clear rules for the orphanage messy realities of parenting, when a fussy baby easiest calms down with a video of a nursery rhyme or a grandmother who is three states away can only contact Skype with a toddler.
These disjuncts sometimes mean strict rules The pediatricians and researchers who have dealt with the problem generate more guilt than useful corrections in parenting decisions.
"It triggers a real conflict," said University of Michigan pediatrician Jenny Radesky, author of Screen Time Guidelines for the American Aca Demy of Pediatrics in 2016. "The more guidelines we give, it seems just as if there would be a mismatch between what experts say … and what it feels like to be a parent in the real world every day. "
Radesky also said that Silicon Valley was the last Year has introduced a number of tools to help parents limit the screen time of children, possibly going further Improve these tools and design your services in a way less prone to heavy use by children Features that mitigate pauses, such as YouTube's default auto-play feature, are a frequent source of complaints for consumers claiming that technology companies are obsessive Behavior of children who have no self-control for adults (YouTube has long said that its service is not intended for children under the age of 13, although surveys show it is popular with younger children.)
Wednesday's announcement by WHO, The United Nations Public Health Agency has given international recognition to the growing initiative to limit the time children spend watching TV, as access to mobile devices is increasing worldwide.
Smartphones, which first became popular in 2007 with Apple's introduction of the iPhone, used to be found mainly in wealthy countries like the United States. However, their numbers are billions of dollars and, together with other mobile devices, are the main internet portal for much of the world.
YouTube alone has a worldwide audience of more than two billion people and fuel consumer demand reduction measures Exposure of children as scientists continue to study the effects of screens on brain development.
"It is extremely important that someone with the authority and reach of the WHO is" said, "said Josh Golin from the campaign for a commercial free childhood, an advocacy group in Boston, that screen time is" not essential for learning and ineffective for teaching. "
WHO's rules are easily followed by those of other health groups in the United States and elsewhere who typically require limited screen time and plenty of personal interaction and sleep for preschoolers The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines make an exception to allow video chats for children under 18 months of age and suggest that those closer to 2 might benefit from occasional watching of educational videos, but the group said the parents should give priority to creative, undisturbed playtime for infants and toddlers. [AlthoughthereiswidespreadconsensusamongscientistsandphysiciansabouttheriskofhavingtoomuchscreentimeforchildrenmanycomplainaboutthelimitationsofstudiesthatexistLong-termconsequencescanbedifficulttomeasureandethicalconcernspreventexperimentsinwhichforexampleonegroupofbabieswatchtwohoursofvideoadaywhileasecondgroupplaysoutsideorchatswithparents
There are also discussions about whether the total screen time is the same. Is a video in which other children unpack toys better or worse than a FaceTime chat with a traveling parent? Are interactive games better than just watching shows?
Research on older children has linked screen time to behavioral and developmental issues. However, research on babies and toddlers is inconclusive. A study published in JAMA Pediatrics in January found that screen time can delay the language and social skills of toddlers. Another study published this month in paediatrics even found that when parents read printed books, parents interacted more with their children and talked to them than when they read their children's electronic books.
From this research and the observed results comes a scientific consensus experiences of psychologists, paediatricians and parents. The WHO guidelines and those of other groups reflect this.
"The absolute priority for very young children must be personal interaction, physical activity and sleep," said Twinege psychologist and author iGen, a 2017 book on the impact of social media and other technology Children. "I think the temptation to give young children a phone or tablet at every riot is wrong, children need to learn to calm themselves and handle their emotions, and if they get these devices frequently, they will not learn these things. "
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) And a bipartisan group of lawmakers have proposed a bill urging the National Institutes of Health to conduct a multi-year $ 40 million study on the impact of technology, screen time, and Online media to perform on infants and older children.
"It is important to ensure that children do not spend too much time in front of screens, but we need a comprehensive national discussion on how to ensure the health and well-being of children and adolescents as their technology increases," said Markey Declaration on Wednesday after the publication of the WHO guidelines.
Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, whose members include such technology companies as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, said there was an important difference between "screen time" and "screen use."
What we do not want is to create a situation where parents are ashamed because they use pills, etc., when cooking or something, "said Balkam. "It's about finding a balance."
The worry about screen time starts long before the kids look for their parents' iPads and smartphones, said Emily Oster, a professor of economics at Brown University and author of Cribsheet: A Data-Driven Guide to Better, Easier Education. "But there is not enough compelling evidence," said Oster, who tracks the effect of screen time beyond the television. For example, children who grew up with iPads are not old enough for researchers to measure their educational or developmental growth.
"I think people need to look at that and think that these guidelines are not based on some underlying, well-rehearsed truth and decide with their judgment what will work," said Oster. "These ideas that children become physically active and get enough sleep – that's a good idea, but it's not just about screens."