No sedentary screen time for children: WHO Guidelines

As per new World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, children should not engage in more active play than sedentary screen time. It says babies and toddlers must not be left to watch television or other screens passively before turning two.

Every year more than 5 million deaths across all age groups are due to lack of physical activity. Therefore, to prevent childhood obesity and other associated diseases in later life, it is important to improve their physical, mental health, well-being, to prevent childhood obesity and other diseases associated in later life, for this physical activity, reduce sedentary time, quality sleep in young children is required.

Key Facts

  • These WHO guidelines will be presented at ‘European Congress on Obesity’. This is for the first time. WHO has given guidelines about behavioural patterns, physical activity and sleep for children under 5 years of age.
  • It focuses on passive viewing, with aim to deal with rising inactivity in children leading to obesity-related ill health and global mortality.
  • It recommends that sedentary time should be turned into quality time. Example- reading book with child, can help them develop language skills.
  • Sedentary screen time (including computer games) should be allowed before child turns two, and limit for 2-4 year olds is 1 hour a day and less is better.

Key Features of WHO guidelines

  • For Infants (less than 1 year old): They should get no screen time and must not be kept in prams or seats for long. Parents must ensure they engage more in interactive floor-based active play, 30 minutes of tummy time and get better quality of sleep. Babies up to 3 months should sleep for at least 14-17 hours and those up to 11 months for 12-16 hours.
  • Children between 1-2 years old: They should spend at least 180 minutes (3 Hours) in different kinds of physical activities, and should be allowed minimum screen time and must get at least 11-14 hours of good quality sleep.
  • Children between 3-4 years old: Maximum 1 hour of screen time should be allowed. Parents must engage them in storytelling, in physical activities for at least 180 minutes (3 hours) and good quality sleep for 10-13 hours.
  • Children below 5 years of age: Their screen time should not be more than 1 hour rather should spend more time playing.

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