Once again, new kids' screen time recommendations have been released—and this time, the message to parents is that you might want to think twice before watching the latest baby shark video with your littlest one.
New guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend absolutely no screen time for children under one. This includes watching videos or TV and playing on the phone or computer. Rather, the research emphasizes the importance of educational interactions, like reading and storytelling, during leisure time with small children.
As for kids between the ages of two and five, the study encourages capping sedentary screen time at an hour a day—though even less is better.
By following these guidelines, WHO says caregivers will contribute to early childhood development and early learning opportunities, taking advantage of the greatest physical and cognitive growth stage (under the age of five) and teaching healthy lifelong habits.
Along with screen-time recommendations, the guidelines also offer advice around physical activity and sleep. "Physical inactivity has been identified as a leading risk factor for global mortality and a contributor to the rise in overweight and obesity," says WHO. "Early childhood is a period of rapid physical and cognitive development and a time during which a child's habits are formed and family lifestyle habits are open to changes and adaptations."
Here are more details on WHO's guidelines around physical activity and screen time:
"For the greatest health benefits, infants and young children should meet all the recommendations for physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep in a 24-hour period," WHO stresses.
The recommendations aren't without their detractors. Max Davie, officer for health improvement for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), told The Mirror that he believes while the guidelines provide useful benchmarks for families, they should be interpreted with caution.
"Our research has shown that currently there is not strong enough evidence to support the setting of screen time limits, and that screen use should be considered alongside a range of activities to assess its impact," Davie says.
If you're struggling to get a handle on your kids' screen time, click here for some simple ideas.