Science and Tech


The World Health Organization Recommends Zero Screen Time For Babies

​The World Health Organization has issued new guidelines on physical activity and sleep for kids under 5.
Posted at 7:58 PM, Apr 26, 2019

Echoing what many parents have been saying for years, the World Health Organization says kids today need to move around more instead of staring at a screen all day.

The WHO issued new guidelines on "physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep" for kids under 5 on Wednesday. The organization said moving more, sitting still less and getting enough quality sleep can "contribute to [kids'] physical health, reduce the risk of developing obesity in childhood ... and improve mental health and wellbeing." 

Per its recommendations, children between the ages of 1 and 4 should spend at least three hours a day "in a variety of physical activities at any intensity" to support healthy development. Infants less than 1 year old also "should be physically active several times a day, ... particularly through interactive floor-based play."

It also says toddlers between the ages of 2 and 4 should not spend more than an hour a day watching an electronic screen, and kids younger than that shouldn't be looking at them at all.

As far as sleep is concerned, the U.N. agency says babies should get at least 12-14 hours of quality shut-eye, including naps. Children between 1 and 2 should get at least 11 hours of sleep, including naps, with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times. Children between 3 and 4 should get at least 10 hours a day, "which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times."

Although there's still no concrete evidence on whether extended screen time poses development risks, pediatric associations from both the U.S. and Canada recommend similar limits.