Screen-time guidance is a first for the World Health Organization (WHO). As part of a larger report on the risks of physical inactivity and sleep deprivation for children under age 5, WHO recommends no solitary, sedentary screen time at all for infants up to age 1, and only an hour a day for children ages 1 to 5.
Editor’s note: As always, children who use low- and high-tech augmentative and alternative communication devices (AAC) should continue to use them at all times—and in an interactive way.
The guidelines say infants should get at least 30 minutes each day—spread throughout the day—on their stomachs, as well as several sessions of physical activity if babies are mobile. The guidelines also suggest 14 to 17 hours of sleep for infants 3 months or less, and 12 to 16 hours for babies between 4 and 11 months.
For children ages 1 to 5, recommendations for daily physical activity increase to 3 hours each day.
According to an article in Business Insider, some organizations criticized the guidelines as focused solely on quantity rather than quality. However, the WHO guidelines closely reflect those issued in 2018 from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which say no screen time through 18 months of age and only an hour a day through 5 years.
ASHA has launched several campaigns and offers toolkits to highlight the effects of abundant screen time on communication development and hearing health. Of course, use of AAC devices are exempt from any screen or digital limitations.
For ASHA resources on helping parents find a good screen time balance as well as ways to interact with children using digital devices, check out:
Shelley D. Hutchins is content editor/producer for the ASHA Leader. firstname.lastname@example.org