On Wednesday, the World Health Organization or WHO said that, 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 United Nations agency, issuing its first such guidelines, also recommended that children ages 1 to 2 have no “sedentary screen time” — including playing computer games or watching TV — and that kids 2 to 4 have no more than one hour per day. They 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.
Expert Dr. Fiona Bull of WHO, in a news briefing stated, “What we are cautioning on is over-use of those electronic screen times with young children.”
“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 in a statement. “Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains.” Screen use might hamper a child’s ability to develop language and social skills.
One in three adults today are overweight or obese, and one in four adults does not do enough physical activity. Being inactive is the cause for a rise in the numbers of obese or overweight people worldwide. Since 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.
Inadequate physical activity is directly linked to more than 5 million deaths worldwide, across all age groups, each year, according to the WHO. Nearly one-quarter of adults, and 80 per cent of adolescents, aren’t active enough — and learn harmful habits early in life.
It is imperative to form lifestyle routines early on in childhood for a period of rapid physical and cognitive development during which habits are formed said the WHO guidelines.