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Screen Time for Kids Under 5 Should Be Less Than an Hour a Day: WHO

The new guidelines say kids should spend less time in front of phones, TVs and computer screens than you probably did at lunch today. Will parents go along?

Keep your babies off the phone, WHO says.

If your kid is less than 5 years old, he should not sit around in front of a phone, TV or computer screen for more than an hour a day and, preferably, not at all, the World Health Organization said this week

WHO's goal is not just to limit screen time, but to get kids more physically active and make sure they get enough sleep. But much of the focus has been on the screen-time recommendations, which are the most restrictive to date for toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for those under 2 but allows up to two hours a day for older kids.

It is not hard to keep your baby off the phone and away from the screen, but the temptations grow as they become more aware of the world around them, especially when mom, dad, sister and brother have phones of their own that they are always looking at, passing around and pointing at them to take their picture.

Maybe the WHO's recommendations will be easier to embrace if we treat them less as a restriction on how much time kids spend online and more as a motivation to get kids moving about.

“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. “This is about making the shift from sedentary time to playtime, while protecting sleep. “

WHO's suggested limits don't just apply to time spent online, but how long a young child is left in one place without much movement. So infants shouldn't be in a stroller, high chair or even riding on a parent's back in a carrier for more than an hour a day, WHO believes.

Instead, kids between 1 and 4 should get three hours of physical activity a day; for those in the older range, at least an hour of that should be of moderate or vigorous intensity, although (grandpop will be happy to hear) it need not be all at once.

Sufficient sleep is the third leg of WHO's guidelines, ranging from 17 hours for newborns to 10–13 hours a night for 3 and 4 year olds. If they're jumping around three hours a day, that shouldn't be a problem.


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