WHO: Children under 5 should get no more than 1 hour a day of screen time


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(NEW YORK) — The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on the importance of physical activity and adequate sleep for young children, which includes recommendations on how little screen time they should get.

One of the most striking suggestions that a WHO panel of experts suggested is that children under the age of 5 should get no more than one hour of “sedentary” screen time, adding that “less is better.” When sedentary, children should be engaging in activities such as reading, storytelling, puzzles and singing with a caregiver instead, the agency said in a press release published Wednesday.

Overall, children under 5 must spend less time sitting and watching screens, but also spend less sedentary time sitting in strollers and car seats, according to the recommendations. In addition, they need better quality sleep and more time for active play in order to grow up healthy.

This will improve their mental health and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life, Dr. Fiona Bull, WHO’s program manager for population-based prevention of non-communicable diseases, said in a statement.

Early childhood is a “period of rapid development” and a time when family lifestyle patterns should be adapted to “boost health gains,” said WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement. If healthy amounts of physical activity and sleep are established early in life, it will shape habits through adulthood, the agency stated.

“Achieving health for all means doing what is best for health right from the beginning of people’s lives,” Ghebreyesus said.

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