Every time more children use mobile phones or computers to play. Although in some cases they can be used for educational purposes, excessive use from an early age has been associated with difficulties in development, obesity, sleeping problems and the correct development of vision.
In this sense, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently published an article in which it explains that, for children to grow up in a healthy way, they need to spend less time sitting and longer in play of active form. In addition, WHO has shared a series of recommendations for children under 5 with advice on how much time they must spend in front of a screen.
These new guidelines were developed by a WHO expert committee, which evaluated the effects that screen time has on children. According to these experts, if these recommendations are established from an early age, they can help shape habits throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood.
We share some of these recommendations:
Infants less than 1 year old:
- It is not recommended that they remain in front of a screen (neither television, nor tablet, nor a mobile phone). In the moments of inactivity it is recommended that someone reads them or tells them stories with simple figures.
- They should remain active as far as possible, for example playing on the floor, and not sit or remain still for more than an hour. Younger babies should remain in the prone position (tummy time) for 30 minutes throughout the day.
Children of 1 year old:
- It is not recommended that they spend a long time doing sedentary activities, such as watching television, playing video games, and so on. In moments of inactivity it is recommended to read or tell them stories.
- They should spend around 3 hours doing physical activities of any intensity. At this age, they are discovering that they are able to reach places that until now they could not. The mere fact of crawling trying to avoid obstacles is already considered a great activity.
Children of 2 years old:
- They can do a maximum of 1 hour of sedentary activities in front of a screen. The less time they spend the better.
- It is recommended that they spend 3 hours doing physical activities of any intensity.
Children between 3 and 4 years old:
- They shouldn’t spend more than 1 hour doing indoor activities in front of a screen. The less time they spend the better.
- It is recommended that they perform 3 hours of physical activity of any intensity, of which 1 hour should be moderate to high intensity.
Effects of excessive use of screens
Not following these tips and using the screens excessively could have consequences for the correct development of children, such as:
In recent decades, the number of people with myopia has increased dramatically. According to a study published by the journal Ophthalmology, part of this increase is related to short-distance activities, not only those directly related to the use of screens, but with the time spent doing indoor activities in general. The study also found that spending longer in the open, especially at an early age, can delay the progression of myopia.
- Visual fatigue
Visual fatigue refers to the symptoms that appear after spending a very long time in front of a screen. Symptoms may include dryness or itching, blurred vision, or headache. To avoid these symptoms, it is necessary to blink frequently and raise the view to look at a distance of 20 feet for at least 20 seconds.
- Sleep disorders or disturbed sleep
Using screens before bedtime negatively affects sleep, the circadian cycle, and the mental agility of the next day.