Published: Sun, April 28, 2019
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

No screen time for babies; only 1 hour for kids under 5

No screen time for babies; only 1 hour for kids under 5

There's an important difference between "screen time" and "screen use" said Stephen Balkam, founder and chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute, who members including major technology industry players such as Google, Facebook and Amazon.

The WHO guidelines recommend a limit of one hour sedentary screen time for children between the ages of 2 and 5 although "less is better".

Physical inactivity is a leading cause of mortality, World Health Organization says, because it contributes to the rise of obesity and being overweight. Experts said 1 year olds should have no screen time, and 2 year olds should only have an hour per day.

However, it also said that these outcomes can come from other forms of non-activity or restraint, such as being excessively placed in a pram, a auto seat or a chair.

The WHO has recommended that children under 12 months old should be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways.

Children aged one to four years old should be active for at least 180 minutes throughout the day, World Health Organization says, citing walking, crawling, running, jumping, balancing, climbing, dancing, riding wheeled toys, cycling and jumping rope as suitable pastimes.

Children aged one to two years old should spend at least 180 minutes being active and 11 to 14 hours sleeping, it states. "They need to know how to play by themselves along with a little TV mixed with time outside". And instead of watching cartoons or playing mobile games, small children should be getting good quality sleep and doing activities that help with their development. The recommendations should include a gap, as there have been for under-five-year-old no guidelines for activities.

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Some fear that too much screen time reduces the time kids spent connecting and engaging with their caregivers, which is seen as crucial for their social and emotional development. Children under 5 should also get more exercise and sleep in order to develop better habits, said WHO.

Professor Andrew Przybylski, from the University of Oxford, said: "On the basis of common sense numerous recommendations make sense but in many ways the conclusions drawn about screens are out of step with scientific evidence of harm".

Research published last week by the University of Alberta in Canada suggested two or more hours of screen-time per day could lead to behavioural problems.

Playtime, not screen time: For three to four-year-olds, moreover, 60 minutes of this activity should be of "moderate-to-vigorous intensity", according to the United Nations agency's guidelines, which also note that around the world, five million people die every year because they are not active enough.

Have 11-14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times.

To get enough sleep, children in this age range should get between 10 to 13 hours of good quality sleep a day.

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