WHO advocates no electronic screen viewing for infants

April 26, 2019

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on stringent rules related to electronic screen time, where children under 12 months, especially infants, should not be exposed to electronic screens at all.

The early exposure could lead to addiction and sedentary screen time, which includes less engaging pastimes such as watching television and playing computer games.This inactivity is a huge risk for mortality and adds to the global rise in obesity. Being excessively overweight can also lead to diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and some types of cancer.

In 2017, the WHO reported that the global number of obese children and adolescents had skyrocketed to 120 million inside the past 40 years, most evidently in low- and middle-income nations in Asia, attributed to inactivity and sedentary choices.

As such, the UN health agency has recommended that children under five should be limited to one hour per day of screen time. The UN’s introductory guidelines cover sleep, exercise, and highlights:

  • Floor-based play or “tummy time” for infants for at least an hour daily – strictly without exposure to electronic devices/screens;
  • Limited restraining of toddlers/children in a pram or high chair, or strapped to someone’s back;
  • A course of physical activities spread throughout the day, with no more than an hour of screen time.

The WHO further advises plenty of sleep and adequate physical activity for under-fives: “Healthy physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep habits are established early in life, providing an opportunity to shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood.”


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