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About Children and Screens

Despite screens are everywhere, intelligent use of them will allow to grow a healthy and active generation.

Screens are currently everywhere and anytime. They wake us at morning, update us at what happened when we were asleep, navigate the fastest route to work or locate for us the fastest buses to school. They help us to be up to date at what happens with our friends and remind us of the important meetings we have during the day. Most people at work also sit in front of a screen for at least eight hours in a row. We have smart screens at schools and a tablet for each pupil. We return home and sit in front of a TV screen to relax.

Since screens are such an important part of our lives, we need to consider their impact on our lives and learn to deal with them as part of a healthier routine.

Begin with the kids

There is a broad consensus among experts that the “window of opportunity” for assimilation of healthier behaviors and habits is during young ages. Therefore, the World Health Organization refers to this age group - children under the age of five, separately, and provides for them specific guidance for parents and educators.

  • From birth to the age of two years: it is advised not to allow “sitting” (meaning sitting in front of the screen) screen time at all, but to encourage active time as much as possible - playing, in the yard, swimming or other social activity. In addition, if the kid is in a “sedentary” state, it is recommended to do some activity with him, such as reading books, board games or puzzles.
  • Age of two years and up to the age of five years: accumulated screen time of up to one hour, while as little screen time as possible is preferred. The more active toddlers will be throughout the day and the more appropriate sleeping hours they will have - they will develop and grow healthier.

Daily recommendations by the World Health Organization for kids up to the age of five

Age Recommended screen time Recommended time for physical activity Recommended sleeping hours
0 - 3 months Without At least 30 minutes on the belly 14 - 17 hours
4 - 11 months Without At least 30 minutes 12 - 16 hours
12 - 24 months Without At least 180 minutes 11 - 14 hours
2 - 5 years Up to one hour, preferably less At least 180 minutes, while 60 of them with moderate to high exertion 10 - 13 hours

It is, of course, very important to adapt the content watched or played by kids to their age. It is desirable to provide kids with an educational content, suitable to their age, that the pictures on the screen will not be too jumpy and the voice level will not be high.

A recommendation for “screen free” times

Israeli Association of Pediatric Physicians published a position paper, where it recommends that during meals and at bedtime (about one hour before the kids go to sleep), to assure screen free sterile zone. The reason for it: when eating meals without screens, the kids eat more consciously, without distractions, and, in addition, they enjoy from a family quality time. That way you prevent habits that may contribute to future obesity, and grow kids that share with their parents their everyday experiences more.

Avoiding screens during bedtime as well and close to is important, in order to allow kids to calm down of daily experiences and to slide to a more continuous and relaxed sleep. Watching screens before bed causes alertness and acts contrary to what we want, in order to help our kids with good night sleep.

In conclusion

For maintaining healthy and active lifestyle, it is advised to encourage kids to do activities at home and outside, and when the activities are sedentary - to prefer activities, such as reading books, board games or puzzles.

It is advised to maintain screen free sterile zone during meals and at bedtime before sleep.

For further reading

Recommendations of the World Health Organization for physical activities, screen time and sleeping times to kids up to the age of 5
Recommendations of Pediatric Physicians Association for screen time for kids (in Hebrew)
Children eat healthy