Children aged one-year or younger should have zero screen time when it comes to television, videos, etc., and those aged two should have no more than one hour per day, with less being better. This was the recommendation handed down today by the World Health Organization (WHO) based on their study Guidelines on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior and Sleep for Children Under 5 Years of Age.
WHO’s panel of experts research included looking at the effects of spending time watching screens, which, in turn, leads to a decreased activity level. Some stats they put forth: 80% of adolescents aren’t sufficiently physically active, surprising considering only 23% of adults fall short in this area. This has resulted in five million deaths globally each year for all age groups. Per WHO, “If healthy physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep habits are established early in life, this helps shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.”
The strong message from WHO: Bring back play. Dr. Juana Willumsen, WHO focal point for childhood obesity and physical activity, says in a news release about the study, “This is about making the shift from sedentary time to playtime, while protecting sleep.”
A balanced approach is necessary when structuring play time and limiting screen time in children’s lives. There is a place for sedentary time, especially when approaching bedtime. WHO recommends shared, quality time between kids and caregivers with activities like singing, puzzles and reading, all which are important for child development.
When it comes to limiting screen time, a recent Parentology article examined how to set the right boundaries for your child. Taking this a step further by looking at what your child is watching was discussed in this Parentology article.
Follow WHO’s new guidelines during a child’s first five years and the foreseen result: these steps will contribute to motor and cognitive development and lifelong health.