I got my very first iPhone when our first daughter was a year old. It would be safe to say that neither her or my son can remember a life without touch-screen devices. It’s an interesting place to be in, considering their parents can easily recall the day we first booted up our Gateway computers and logged into AOL (complete with dial-tone).
We are, and have been for years now, in an ever-changing time as we attempt to navigate screen and device usage with our little ones. The World Health Organization recently released a new set of guidelines for babies and young children, and you’re going to want to read them. Spoiler: they recommend very little.
The agency reports that children under one should have no screen time at all. Ever.
They also share that children ages five and under should have no more than an hour in front a screen daily, but that less is definitely better.
This report goes hand-in-hand with similar recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics, who recommend that children under 18 months should have no screen time beyond video chats, and that young children under two should be limited to “high-quality programming” that is educational. Parents should be close by to help them understand what they’re seeing.
“Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time, and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and well-being, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life,” a representative for the World Health Organization said in a statement.
You can read the full report here, but to elaborate, the guidelines are as follows:
Infants (under the age of one): “Screen time is not recommended. When sedentary, engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver is encouraged.”
Ages 1-2: “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 1 hour; less is better.”
Ages 3-4: “Sedentary screen time should be no more than 1 hour; less is better.”
The original article in Time puts forward that not all screen time is created equal. Sitting in front of mindless television is not the same as playing puzzle games or alphabet tracing games on a tablet, for example. But it gives us plenty to think about. We spend so much time ensuring our children are on the right track and developing as they should. I, for one, will do my best to remember that nothing is all bad or all good.
What do you think? How much screen time do your kids get?
Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.