WHO’s New Guidelines for Screen Time for Children

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced its recommendations on screen time for children. According to WHO, children younger than 1 year of age should NOT spend any time with screens at all; while kids aged between 2 and 4 years of age should spend NO more than an hour.

The guidelines also highlighted recommendations on activity, behaviour, and sleep for children. WHO recommends that children who are under 5 years of age should get quality sleep and naps, spend less time in front of screens and play more if they are to grow healthy.

For babies, WHO emphasises the importance of having interactive floor-based play several times a day, suggesting that infants should not be physically restrained – like in a high chair or stroller – for more than an hour at a time. It’s recommended that caregivers read, sing or tell stories to keep infants engaged.

WHO’s recommendations on screen time bear a striking similarity to guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2016. AAP recommends that children under 18 months of age should get no screen time at all. Children aged between 2 and 5 years old should limit their use to an hour. APP further stresses that any screen time should be spent “co-watching” with engaged adults.

Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep in young children will improve their physical, mental health and wellbeing, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases later in life,” Dr Fiona Bull, programme manager for surveillance and population-based prevention of non-communicable diseases at WHO.

The following are WHO’s recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age. You can read more about it HERE.

1) Infants (less than 1 year) should play more and be physically active several times a day. They shouldn’t be given any screen time at all. They should have 12- 17 hours of good quality sleep, including naps.

2) Children 1-2 years of age should be physically active, doing at least 180 minutes long physical activities throughout the day. Screen time should be no more than an hour. They should have 11-14 hours of good quality sleep, including naps.

3) Children 3-4 years of age should be physically active, doing at least 180 minutes long physical activities throughout the day. Screen time should be no more than an hour. They should have 10-13 hours of good quality sleep, including naps.


  1. Hu, J. C. (2019, April 29). Why Parents Shouldn’t Fret Over the World Health Organization’s New Screen Time Guidelines. Retrieved from https://slate.com/technology/2019/04/screen-time-world-health-organization-limits.html.
  2. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/news/pregnancy-and-child/who-guidelines-screen-time/.
  3. To grow up healthy, children need to sit less and play more. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/24-04-2019-to-grow-up-healthy-children-need-to-sit-less-and-play-more.
  4. Pinsker, J. (2019, October 1). The Underlying Messages That Screen-Time Recommendations Send Parents. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/04/who-screen-time-recommendations/588178/.
  5. American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. (2016, October 21). Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx.
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