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World Health Organization says babies shouldn't look at screens

In this image, a baby faces a large multi-colored screen.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued new guidelines on Wednesday that state "children under five must spend less time sitting watching screens," emphasizing that screen time should be replaced with interactive non-screen-based activities.

The big picture: Parents today are relying more than ever on digital babysitters and device-led playtime to entertain their children, with many not comfortable sending their children outside to play unattended. Screen time for children ages 0–2 more than doubled from 1997 to 2014, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics.

Details: WHO's new guidelines say that screen time is not recommended for infants or 1-year-olds at all. Sedentary screen time should be kept to no more than 1 hour for children aged 2–4. WHO says that applying these guidelines, along with increased physical activity, "will contribute to children's motor and cognitive development and lifelong health."

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