On Wednesday, April 24, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the United Nations health agency, issued health guidelines regarding electronic screen time usage for children which included that infants younger than a year should not be exposed to electronic screens at all.
This is the first time that WHO is issuing guidelines on computer or electronic device usages for children and it also said that two to four year old children should have just one hour per day of sedentary screen time.
The guidelines for children’s activity levels cover sleep and exercise as well as activity levels. Here are the results of its report:
•Infants under a year should be engaging in ‘tummy time’ or playing and interacting on the floor with toys or people or just exploring and developing gross and fine motor skills for at least a minimum of one hour a day and should avoid all electronic screen time.
•For children who are between a year and four years of age, they should be engaging at least three hours per day, spread throughout the day, in a variety of physical activities and should spend no more than an hour on electronic screen time.
•Also, restraining children in a pram (stroller) or high chair or strapped to a person’s back should not be for longer than an hour at a time in a day.
WHO’s guidelines for healthy living for children also recommends that children who are younger than five years of age should be physically active and be getting a lot of sleep. It says this will establish good, healthy habits right into adolescence and into adulthood.
In it’s guidelines to countries who are members of the United Nations, WHO states that certain habits like healthy physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep habits are formed early in life, therefore opportunities should be taken during early childhood that will carry over and shape good habits into adolescence and then adulthood.
WHO explains that watching television or videos or playing computer games are considered as sedentary screen time.
WHO’s concern is over the global rise in obesity which it believes is fueled by sedentary and inactive lifestyles, a leading risk factor for mortality. Diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, and cardiovascular disease are among the risk factors that come with being overweight and obese.
The number of obese children and adolescence worldwide has surged tenfold over the last 40 years to 120 million, reported WHO in 2017 and this increase was happening in low to middle-income nations, particularly in Asia.