Health Care

World Health Organization recommends one-hour maximum screen time per day for under-5s

"Improving the physical activity, sedentary and sleep time behaviors of young children will contribute to their physical health, reduce the risk of developing obesity in childhood and the associated non-communicable diseases in later life and improve mental health and well-being", the WHO said.

3- to 4-year-olds shouldn't go over one hour of screen time.

Sedentary screen time would include watching television or videos and playing computer games.

Children aged two to four should not be allowed more than one hour of "sedentary screen time" per day and infants less than one year old should not be exposed to electronic screens at all, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

Be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play; more is better. Almost one-quarter of adults, and 80 percent of adolescents, aren't active enough - and learn harmful habits early in life.

Despite acknowledging that its "strong recommendations" were based on "very low quality evidence", the United Nations health agency said its advice could apply to all young children, regardless of gender, cultural background or socio-economic status.

The guidelines also recommended that young children spend sedentary time engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver rather than watching screens.

The guidelines also covered sleep and exercise.

1-2 year old kids should be spending at least three hours each day engaged in physical activities, too.

For children who are one to two years old, World Health Organization recommends at least 180 minutes of various types of physical activities at any intensity, including some of moderate-to-vigorous intensity.

"In this age group of under 5s, it is now 40 million children around the world (who) are overweight". If healthy amounts of physical activity and sleep are established early in life, it will shape habits through adulthood, the agency stated.

Willumsen said the screen time guidelines do not pertain to "an interactive tablet based game or a TV programme where children are encouraged to move, to copy movements to dance to interact with the media".

WHO's screen time advice "overly focuses on quantity of screen time and fails to consider the content and context of use", said Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. "Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains". "Also, it is hard to see how a household with mixed-age children can shield a baby from any screen exposure at all, as is recommended".

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