The Growing Issue of Screen Time in Today's Parenting

By Lexxi Bursey

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released the new guidelines regarding screen time for infants and young children. Released Wednesday 24th, the WHO concluded that children under five years old should not be spending as much time as they are on screens. In order for them grow up healthy and develop healthy habits as an adult, children should be spending far less times sitting and watching screens. This has become a growing issue for the young infants and children of today, and obviously will be a continuing trend in the future.

This has became an issue due to the “busy” lives of today’s society, which prominently is rushed activities and a high sense of self importance. Millennials, the parents of the young children, are failing to spend as much time with their children as they should be. In place of the family time, there are iPads and screens placed in front of their eyes for them to occupy their time with. Many children today already have some sort of screen, whether it be a phone or a tablet, or even both. There is also the televisions in the home, which now more often are found in the child’s room and in the living room.

While handing your child may be the easiest and quickest fix to entertain a child, it is not the most practical. It decreases their physical and delineated from forming healthy habits to continue in their future. According to Dr. Fiona Bull, the program manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of noncommunicable disease at 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.”

Not only does it influence the habits for life, but according to WHO, applying the new recommendations in their guidelines during the first five years of the child’s life will also contribute to the motor skills and cognitive development and lifelong health of the child.

The guidelines stated that child below one year should not receive any screens and children up to five should spend less that one hour a day. A summary of the rest of the guidelines are following, according to a summary from WSLS from WHO.

Infants (less than 1 year) should

  • “Be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive, floor-based play; more is better. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes in the prone position (tummy time) spread throughout the day while awake”, according to WSLS10.

  • “Not be restrained for more than one hour at a time (e.g. prams/strollers, high chairs, or strapped on a caregiver’s back). Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged”, according to WSLS.

  • “Have 14 to 17 hours (from 0–3 months of age) or 12 to 16 hours (from 4–11 months of age) of good, quality sleep, including naps,” according to WSLS.

Children 1-2 years of age should

  • “Spend at least three hours in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, including moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better”, according to WSLS10.

  • “Not be restrained for more than an hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers, high chairs or strapped on a caregiver’s back) or sit for extended periods of time. For 1-year-olds, sedentary screen time (such as watching TV or videos, playing computer games) is not recommended. For those aged 2 years, sedentary screen time should be no more than one hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged,” according to WSLS.

  • “Have 11 to 14 hours of good, quality sleep, including naps, with regular sleep and wake-up times,” according to WSLS.

Children 3-4 years of age should

  • “Spend at least 180 minutes in a variety of types of physical activities at any intensity, of which at least 60 minutes, is moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, spread throughout the day; more is better,” according to WSLS.

  • “Not be restrained for more than one hour at a time (e.g., prams/strollers) or sit for extended periods of time. Sedentary screen time should be no more than one hour; less is better. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged,” according to WSLS.

  • “Have 10 to 13 hours of good, quality sleep, which may include a nap, with regular sleep and wake-up times,” according to WSLS.