No more than one hour of screen time for kids under 5, says WHO

And no screens at all for babies under 1 year old.

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Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
2 min read
Screen time

The younger your child is the more screen time might be harming them, says the World Health Organization.

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Devices are part of our everyday lives. But the World Health Organization says it's important to a child's healthy development that screens not become integral too soon.

In a report released Wednesday, WHO said, to be healthy, children under 5 years old should be spending less time staring at screens and more time playing. Translation: No more than one hour of screen time.

WHO is concerned that too much screen time paired with sedentary behavior in children under 5 can lead to inadequate sleep and low activity levels.

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"Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life," Dr. Fiona Bull, program manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable diseases at WHO, said in a release.

Here are WHO's recommendations on screen time:

  • For Infants under 1, no screen time at all. Infants should be active several times a day through floor-based play. If the baby isn't mobile, they should have at least 30 minutes of "tummy time" throughout the day. Infants shouldn't be restrained for more than one hour at a time in strollers, high chairs or strap-on carriers. 
  • Screen time isn't recommended for 1-year-olds, and WHO suggests less than an hour a day for 2-year-olds. Children 1 to 2 years old should have about three hours of physical activity throughout the day and not be restrained for more than one hour at a time.
  • 3- to 4-year-olds shouldn't go over one hour of screen time. Kids this age should participate in about three hours worth of physical activity per day. 
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.