World Health Organization Screen Time Guidelines

It may be especially dangerous to spend a lot of time on social media. In a study published in 2018, it was found that reducing students’ social media usage to 30 minutes a day had a substantial effect on wellbeing. 

Spending time on your phone, watching TV, and playing games might seem like a great way to pass the time, but it is becoming detrimental to our health. 

Below, we will be looking at what The World Health Organization has to say about screen time guidelines and how they can affect the mental health of children and adults. 

For Children

In its new guidelines for baby and young child screen time, The World Health Organization recommends very little. Physical activity and sleep are emphasized in the procedures and limit time spent in front of the TV or computer. Time reports that these are the first screen time guidelines from the WHO.

“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,” according to a spokesperson for The World Health Organization.

For Children Under The Age Of Five

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that children under 5 spend one hour per day on digital devices. 

According to a study published online on January 28 in JAMA Pediatrics, children between two and three years old watch television for between 2.4 and 3.6 hours per day. The authors reported that excessive TV watching might partly explain a lack of developmentally appropriate behavior, which was linked to poor performance on developmental screening tests.

For Children Under The Age Of One

In general, the WHO recommends limiting the amount of hours children under 1 spend on screen devices. They suggest that if a child is under one year, they should not spend time in front of screens. 

In Dr. Steele’s opinion, children can identify 335 words by the time they are 18 months old if they see a parent looking at something and follow their gaze to that object.

 The results were found by Andrew Meltzoff, Ph.D., at the University of Washington. Visual cues trigger curiosity, which leads to movement and exploration. When parents don’t watch their kids closely, they can identify just 197 words by 18 months.

Here are WHO’s screen time recommendations by age:

  • Infant (less than one year of age): Screen time is not recommended.
  • 1-2 years of age: No screen time for a 1-year-old. No more than an hour for 2-year-olds, with less time preferred.
  • 3 to 4 years old: No more than one hour.

“Achieving health for all means doing what is best for health right from the beginning of people’s lives,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said upon the guidelines’ release. 

“Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains.”

For Adults

According to a 2017 study of U.S. adults, spending more than six hours a day watching television or using computers was associated with a higher risk of depression. According to another study, young people who see screens twice as often as those who do so less frequently are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

WHO has not yet personally reported how much screen time adults should have as of yet. Most jobs these days require you to be staring at a screen, so it is safe to assume that this can be one of the reasons why the requirements are not yet made public. 

Final Thoughts 

It is essential to find a balance between screen-based and non-screen activities. Is your time spent on screens more important than spending time with friends and family? 

You are living a balanced and healthy lifestyle if you can balance your screen time with the rest of your life. 

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