Recommended Screen Time by Age: Benefits and Guidelines from WHO

With screens virtually everywhere, sometimes monitoring a child’s screen time can be challenging. So, how to manage your child’s screen time? Here is an explanation about recommended child’s screen time by age: benefits and guidelines from WHO.

Read also: Parent’s Guide When Giving Cell Phones to Children

Definition of Screen Time

Recommended Screen Time by Age

Screen time is the time spent staring at a screen, be it a gadget, tablet, video game or television. This condition is frequently associated with addictive habits that have an impact on the children’s health. Also, screen time often becomes something which is quite prohibited by parents to their children. The reason is, the longer the screen time, the child becomes timeless, even to the point of spending the whole day staring at the screen.

In fact, screen time is not always wrong. There are also some benefits of screen time. By the way, what are the criteria for good screen time and can bring benefits? At what age are the children allowed to be introduced to devices that have a screen. Well, in this article, we will share information about screen time for children: benefits and guidelines.

Screen Time Guidelines for Children from WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued screen time guidelines for the children. Apparently, the guidelines, which were issued in 2019, are widely used as guidelines for young mothers regarding screen time permission for the children.

1. Guidelines for baby less than a year old

Usually, babies less than a year old require extra attention. Some guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) include babies less than a year old being encouraged to do physical activities such as floor-based games.

Parents can lay the babies on their stomach for 30 minutes at a time, when the baby cannot walk yet. Also, do not restrain the babies like holding, placing in a stroller, sitting in a chair for more than one hour at a time.

Screen time is not recommended when the baby is less than a year old. So, avoid the baby as much as possible from the reach of the cell phone screen. However, there is an exception if there is a video call from a family member. At these ages, parents should always accompany the baby.

The recommended sleep time for babies aged 0-4 months is 14-17 hours. While the recommended sleep time for babies aged 4-11 months is 12-16 hours. Parents should read a fairy tale with good life lessons for the baby when the baby is quiet on the lap.

2. Guidelines for children aged 1-2 years

For children aged 1-2 years, the recommended activities are almost the same as when the baby is less than a year old. But there is an increase in frequency, for example, more frequent physical activities such as playing. At this age, child’s screen time is allowed. Of course, it must be accompanied by the parents or caregivers. As parents, you can allow your children to watch educational content which is useful and entertaining. The recommended screen time for children aged 1-2 years is less than one hour per day.

3. Guidelines for children aged 2-5 years

As the children get older, they will have more diverse activities. In children aged 2-5 years, their play activities are going to be more frequent. As a parent, you can still supervise and accompany your child while playing.

The recommended screen time for children aged 2-5 years is no more than one hour per day. However, the shorter the time, the better. Always accompany your child if she/he wants to enjoy screen time so that there is a clear time limit. Of course, the content watched by your child should be educational content which is beneficial for her/him while encouraging your child to explore her/his world. For example, you can allow your child to watch content in the form of color recognition until your child is interested in coloring.

4. Guidelines for children over 6 years old

For children over 6 years old, there are no specific guidelines regarding screen time. However, as parents, you need to implement a consistent time limit for a child’s screen time. Also, you must ensure that the child’s screen time does not interfere with sleep schedules, physical play activities, and other needs to maintain your child’s health.

Screen Time Rules According to Pediatricians

In addition to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pediatricians Association also has guidelines on screen time for children. Here are the rules:

  • Children under 1 year old are prohibited from viewing the screens and other screen time.
  • Screen time for children aged 1-2 years is in the form of watching TV and videos. As for computers and gadgets, it is not recommended.
  • For children aged 2-6 years, which includes pre-school, the maximum screen time is one hour. The shorter the time, the better.
  • For children aged 6-12 years (school period), the recommended screen time is a maximum of 90 minutes.

Benefits of Screen Time

If done reasonably and within the recommended time limit, screen time will give benefits. Here are some of the benefits of screen time for children.

1. Improves children’s socialization with distant family

The first benefit of screen time is to improve children’s socialization with distant families. The existence of technology can help in socializing despite the distance. As a parent, you can utilize screen time to establish communication with the family, for example by video calling and chatting. That way, screen time is useful in improving socialization for the children.

2. Increases knowledge and train thinking

The second benefit of screen time is to increase knowledge and train thinking. Good screen time such as watching education-based TV and learning applications will make the children know more and many things. Also, a quality spectacle can improve thinking. Therefore, it is very important for parents to pay attention to what the child watches.

3. Train children’s skills to be ready for school

Apparently, some digital programs can train children’s spelling, reading, writing, and drawing skills. For example, using learning apps or educational games. With such screen time support, the children can be better prepared for school.

Impact of Gadgets on Children

Having sufficient and appropriate screen time is proven to give the benefits. Most of the screen time is done through gadgets or smartphones. Of course, the use of these gadgets has an impact on the child; positive impacts and negative impacts.

1. Positive impact

Here are some positive impacts of gadget on children:

  • Educational games can stimulate the brain
    With the presence of various brain teasers, the children can train their thinking skills.
  • Increase knowledge
    As we know that gadgets have a few supporting applications which are useful to increase knowledge. You can accompany your children when they want to learn school materials through gadgets.
  • Responsive to technology
    The role of technology is very important, especially in the future. The children should be accustomed to being adaptive to the times, one of which is through the use of gadget technology.

2. Negative impact

Here are some negative impacts of gadget on children:

  • Addiction
    Remember that uncontrolled use of gadgets can lead to addiction in children, especially when they play games until they forget the time. This negative impact eventually leads the child to waste more time on things which are less useful for them.
  • Radiation risk
    Screens can cause radiation to the child’s brain. Screen time which is too long can reduce brain function. As a result, the ability of a child to think becomes lower. Then, the child is less responsive to their surroundings.
  • Adverse psychological impact
    Children’s viewing which is not supervised by the parents can have a negative influence on children. For example, there are scenes of violence, damaging home goods, and so on. Of course, parents must prohibit their children from watching such content.

In addition, the use of gadgets needs to be supervised to make sure that the content being watched is appropriate. In order not to get too addicted to gadgets, parents can introduce the children to useful game activities, such as playing guess the animals, playing guess the colors, playing guess the flavor of food, or even other fun children’s games.

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