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The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on screen time limits for young children.
According to the new guidelines, two- to four-year-old-children should limit their screen time, or the period spent passively staring at electronic screens, to only one hour a day. Meanwhile, children aged one and below should not get any screen time at all.
Developed by a panel of experts from the WHO, the guidelines are based on scientific evidence highlighting the dangers of gadget exposure to children’s health. Prolonged screen time has been associated with health problems, such as obesity and sleep disorders, among children.
According to a program manager for the WHO, children’s overall physical and mental well-being will improve once the guidelines are followed. Children are also expected to lessen their sedentary behavior, get adequate sleep, and engage in more physical activities.
The WHO hopes that the guidelines will help children adopt good long-term lifestyle habits and avoid acquiring life-threatening diseases in the future.
With the release of the new guidelines, some groups felt that the WHO was not able to recognize digital media’s possible benefits. The Oxford Internet Institute’s director of research critiqued the WHO’s guidelines. He argued that there is too much focus on the amount of screen time without considering the content children view on the screens and how screen time is actually being utilized.
In contrast, a psychiatry professor at Yale mentioned that the guidelines are timely and crucial in this day and age when parents need to be prepared to raise their children in a digital environment.