The World Health Organization is issuing their first ever recommendation on the amount of screen time for children under five.
According to health officials young children should not look at a screen for more than one hour a day and parents should choose high quality programming if they are watching TV.
In addition to spending less time sitting and watching screens, the new guidelines also suggest spending less time in strollers and seats, getting better quality sleep as well as spending more time actively playing for a healthier life.
“Achieving health for all means doing what is best for health right from the beginning of people’s lives,” says WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains.”
Currently, over 23% of adults and 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently physically active.
“What we really need to do is bring back play for children,” says Dr Juana Willumsen, WHO focal point for childhood obesity and physical activity.
The guidelines suggest no child under five be sitting for more than one hour at a time.
Infants under one-year-old should be physically active several times a day, babies should have at least 30 minutes of tummy time spread throughout the day. Screen time is not recommended while reading and storytelling is encouraged. For zero to three months officials recommend 14 to 17 hours of sleep including naps while infants ages four to 11 months should get between 12 and 16 hours of sleep including naps.
Children between one and two-years-old should spend at least three hours on a variety of physical activities throughout the day. Like infants, one to two-year-olds should not be watching TV, videos or playing computer games while reading and storytelling is encouraged. The guidelines suggest between 11 to 14 hours of good quality sleep with regular wake-up times as well as naps.
Children three to four-years-old should also spend three hours doing a variety of physical activities with at least one hour of moderate to high intensity physical activity spread throughout the day. They should not spend more than one hour in front of a screen and have at least 10 to 13 hours of good quality sleep.