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WHO's First Screen Time Limits Are Pretty Strict

World Health Organization says no more than 1 hour per day for kids under 5
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2019 11:31 AM CDT
In this Friday, Oct. 21, 2011, file photo, a child plays with an iPad in his bedroom.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

(Newser) – The WHO has spoken on screen time: In its first-ever recommendations on the issue, the World Health Organization said Wednesday that children 1 year old and younger should not have any screen time and children ages 2 to 4 should have no more than one hour each day. The guidance was issued as part of a set of broader guidelines on sleep, physical activity, and sedentary time for children under 5, the Hill reports. Among other things, the panel of experts who put together the guidelines recommended children ages 1 to 4 spend at least three hours each day on physical activities, and that during sedentary time, they do things like "reading, storytelling, singing, and puzzles" with a caregiver. It also recommends children not be restrained in strollers, high chairs, or baby carriers for more than an hour at a time, per a press release.

But other agencies have come to different conclusions; an officer at Britain’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, for example, tells the AP that the limits set by the WHO seem too strict and not "proportionate to the potential harm." "Our research has shown that currently there is not strong enough evidence to support the setting of screen time limits," he says. Others note that the WHO guidelines focus exclusively on time and don't take content into consideration: "Not all screen time is created equal," says an Oxford researcher. And still others tell the Washington Post guidelines like this don't consider real world context, and could end up inducing guilt more than inspiring parents to take any meaningful action. Some agencies' guidelines offer more wiggle room than the WHO's, allowing for things like video chatting and educational videos and apps. (See how the WHO's guidelines compare to the AAP's.)

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