The World Health Organization strongly advocates that young children watch TV or play with smartphones and urge parents to help their children stay active and enough to sleep.
This week, the Global Health Authority released its recommendations on physical activity and sleep that children under the age of five should receive to be as healthy as possible. The recommendations contained strict limitations on screen time, especially for younger than two years. The youngest children should avoid any screen time, WHO says, while children between the ages of two and five can not get up for more than one hour a day
. "Improving physical activity, reducing sitting time and ensuring a good night's sleep for young children will improve their physical, mental health and well-being and help prevent childhood obesity and related illness later in life," said Fiona Bull, program manager WHO's monitoring and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases, a statement in which the recommendations were promulgated.
WHO's screen-time guidelines are stricter than those we've seen from other health authorities. For example, in 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children under 18 months of age receive no on-screen time, while children between 2 and 5 years old can get one to two hours a day. However, even these guidelines seem to reflect a rethinking of screen-time risks, with the AAP stressing that the quality of what children see (such as classroom material versus violent cartoons) or whether they are watching with their parents during screen time Interacting is more important factors than the exact time spent looking at screens.
Since then, researchers have argued that even these more flexible guidelines miss the point, as some studies have shown no clear link between longer screen time and worse health outcomes such as depression. Anxiety and insomnia.
The WHO sees its guidelines as ensuring that young children develop healthy habits as early as possible. For example, it is said that any sitting time, not just viewing screens, should be limited to a maximum of one hour and should include reading or storytelling by a caregiver. While sleeping, it recommends that children between the ages of 1 and 2 get 11 to 14 hours a night, while children between the ages of 3 and 4 get 10 to 13 hours a night. Children over the age of one should also receive 180 minutes of physical activity daily, with over three-year-olds engaging in at least one hour of moderate to intense exercise.
"What we really need to do is bring children back into the game." Juana Willumsen, WHO's focal point for childhood obesity and physical activity, said in a statement. "It's about making the switch from sitting time to play time while protecting sleep. "