World Health Organization issues first-ever screen time guidelines for young kids

World Health Organization issues first-ever screen time guidelines for young kids

Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

The World Health Organisation has this week issued its first-ever guidance for how much screen time children under five should get: not very much, and none at all for babies under one.

The United Nations health agency said that kids under five years old should not spend more than one hour looking at screens each day - and that less is better.

The guidelines also emphasise that young kids need to be physically active and get enough sleep, indicating the need for such habits to develop at an early age as they go a long way towards preventing obesity and other diseases later in life.

The guidelines are somewhat similar to advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. That group recommends children younger than 18 months should avoid screens other than video chats. It says parents of young children should choose "high-quality programming."

This new announcement by the WHO is complimented by recent Australian research out of QUT's School of Optometry and Vision Science which found that children need to spend more than an hour and preferably at least two hours a day outside to help prevent myopia (short-sightedness) from developing and progressing.

The study found that increasing exposure to outdoor light is the key to reducing the myopia epidemic in children.

So, the outtake from both studies indicates no more than one hour on screens and no less than one hour outdoors playing.

Be sure to take your child to see an optometrist if you are worried about the effect of screen time on their eyes or if they seem to have trouble seeing into the distance. Click here to make an appointment with an optometrist near you.

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