Children aged two to four should not be allowed more than one hour of “sedentary screen time” per day 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.
Sedentary screen time would include watching television or videos and playing computer games.
“Healthy physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep habits are established early in life, providing an opportunity to shape habits through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood,” the WHO said in the guidelines to member states.
Children between one and four years old should spend at least three hours in a variety of physical activities spread throughout the day, it said. Infants under one should interact in floor-based play and avoid all screens, it said.
Being inactive is a “leading risk factor” for mortality and fuels the global rise in overweight and obesity, the WHO said.