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Monday 20 May 2019

World Health Organisation tells parents to remove screens from young children

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Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

The World Health Organisation has issued new guidelines saying that babies and children under two should not be exposed to “sedentary” screen time.

The institution also recommended that children between two and four years of age should not experience sedentary screen time for more than one hour per day.

The WHO defines sedentary screen time as “watching TV or videos or playing computer games”.

Instead, “when sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged,” the organisation said of young children.

“Healthy physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep habits are established early in life, providing an opportunity to shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood,” the WHO said in its new guidelines.

Being inactive is a “leading risk factor” for mortality and fuels the global rise in overweight and obesity, the WHO said.

The benefits of less screen-based sedentary behaviour (TV viewing, watching videos, playing computer games) include reduced obesity, improved motor and cognitive development and psychosocial health, it said.

However, it also said that these outcomes can come from other forms of non-activity or restraint, such as being excessively placed in a pram, a car seat or a chair.

Children between one and four years old should spend at least three hours in a variety of physical activities spread throughout the day, it said. Infants under one should interact in floor-based play and avoid all screens, it said.

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