Emerging Technologies

This is how much screen time under-5s should have, according to the WHO

A young Sikh plays with a smartphone inside a Sikh temple during their Baisakhi festival in Palma de Mallorca on the Spanish Balearic island of Mallorca, April 27, 2014. Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi, a harvest festival, as the beginning of the New Year.   REUTERS/Enrique Calvo (SPAIN - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY) - GM1EA4S01Z201

WHO recommendations advise minimising screen time for young children. Image: REUTERS/Enrique Calvo

Stephanie Nebehay
Writer, Reuters
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Emerging Technologies?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how The Digital Economy is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

The Digital Economy

Young children should not spend more than an hour a day watching television and videos or playing computer games and infants less than one year old should not be exposed to electronic screens at all, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

The United Nations agency, issuing its first such guidelines, said under-fives should also be physically active and get adequate sleep to help develop good lifelong habits and prevent obesity and other diseases in later life.

“What we are cautioning on is over-use of those electronic screen times with young children,” WHO expert Dr. Fiona Bull told a news briefing.

In its guidelines to member states, the WHO said children between one and four years old should spend at least three hours in a variety of physical activities spread throughout the day.

Infants under one should interact in floor-based play and avoid all screens, it said.

Have you read?

Being inactive is fueling a rise in the numbers of obese or overweight people worldwide, the WHO said. Excessive weight can lead to premature death from heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and some forms of cancer.

“Preventing these deaths needs to start in very early life,” Bull said.

One in three adults today are overweight or obese, and one in four adults does not do enough physical activity, she said.

“In this age group of under 5s, it is currently 40 million children around the world (who) are overweight. Of that (figure) 50 percent are in Africa and the southeast Asia region,” Bull said. That translates into 5.9 percent of children globally.

Keep active

Early childhood is a period of rapid physical and cognitive development during which habits are formed and family lifestyle routines are adaptable, said the WHO guidelines, drawn from evidence in hundreds of studies, many from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States.

“Sedentary behaviors, whether riding motorized transport rather than walking or cycling, sitting at a desk in school, watching TV or playing inactive screen-based games are increasingly prevalent and associated with poor health outcomes,” the WHO said.

Chronic insufficient sleep in children has been associated with increased excessive fat accumulation as measured by body mass index (BMI), it said.

Shorter sleep duration has been associated with more TV viewing and time spent playing computer games, it added.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Emerging TechnologiesWellbeing and Mental Health
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

AI and energy: Will AI help reduce emissions or increase demand? Here's what to know

Eleni Kemene, Bart Valkhof and Thapelo Tladi

July 22, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum