NZ Herald 26 April 2019
Family First Comment: “According to WHO, [the amount of screentime] is never for children in their first year of life and rarely in their second. Those aged 2 to 4, the international health agency said, should spend no more than an hour a day in front of a screen.”
The World Health Organisation (Who) has issued strict new guidelines on one of the most anxiety-producing issues of 21st century family life: How much should parents resort to videos and online games to entertain, educate or simply distract their young children?
The answer, according to Who, is never for children in their first year of life and rarely in their second. Those aged 2 to 4, the international health agency said, should spend no more than an hour a day in front of a screen.
The Who drew on emerging — but as yet unsettled — science about the risks screens pose to the development of young minds at a time when surveys show children are spending increasing amounts of time watching smartphones and other mobile devices.
Ninety-five per cent of families with children under the age of 8 have smartphones, according to the nonprofit Common Sense Media, and 42 per cent of children under 8 have access to their own tablet device.
Experts in child development say the acquisitions of language and social skills, typically by interacting with parents and others, are among the most important cognitive tasks of childhood.
“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.
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“Read our 2015 report which already raised this issue in detail!”