On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said infants below one year should not be exposed to electronic screens.
The United Nations health agency issued its first guidelines stating that older children, between aged two and four, should not be allowed sedentary screen time to more than one hour per day. The agency’s guidelines also covered sleep and exercise.
Here the key features of the guidelines:
- Infants below one year should interact in floor-based play or “tummy time” for at least one hour each day and avoid all electronic screens.
- Children aging from one to four should spend at least three hours in various physical activities, with no more than an hour of electronic screen time.
- Children should not be restrained in a high chair or strapped to someone’s back for more than one hour at a time.
Health officials at the WHO said children under five years should be physically active and get plenty of sleep, which would be established by practicing healthy habits through adolescence and into adulthood.
The WHO states in the guidelines, “Healthy physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep habits are established early in life, providing an opportunity to shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood,”
Sedentary screen time involves watching videos or TV and playing computer games.
The agency said, “Being inactive is a ‘leading risk factor’ for mortality, and is fueling a global rise in overweight and obesity. Being excessively overweight can lead to diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and some types of cancer.” According to a WHO report from 2017, worldwide, the number of obese children and teenagers had increased tenfold to 120 million in the last four decades. The reports also found that the rise was more in lower- and middle-income nations, particularly Asian countries.