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April 24, 2019

The World Health Organization shared some startling news on Wednesday — kids, it turns out, should spend more time outside than looking at screens.

New guidelines issued by the United Nations agency say that children younger than one year old should not be exposed to any electronic screens, while those in the two-to-four-year age range should have no more than one hour of "sedentary" screen time per day. The Washington Post reports the announcement stems from growing research into the developmental effects computers and mobile devices have on children — notably that the "mesmerizing effects of videos" can reportedly keep children from connecting with their parents. But there are also concerns that too much screen time can affect the development of language skills.

The argument for less screen time didn't appear out of the blue. After all, there is a growing sentiment that all humans, not just children, are too reliant on technology instead of healthy social interaction. But the WHO getting its two cents in on the matter is a bit of a novelty.

"It's extraordinarily important that someone with the authority and reach of the WHO is saying this," Josh Golin of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood told the Post.

The WHO says it's also important, screens or no screens, that infants and young children should not remain sedentary or "restrained" for too long, BBC reports. Instead, physical activity is key.

That said, some researchers aren't quite convinced that the WHO's guidelines are necessary. "The restricted screen time limits suggested by the WHO do not seem proportionate to the potential harm," Max Davie from the The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in the United Kingdom told BBC. Tim O'Donnell

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