This is the UN health agency's first-ever guidance on the subject. The takeaway is: Your kids shouldn't be watching TV at all. More specifically, children under five should not spend more than one hour watching screens on a daily basis. In fact, less is better. Infants less than one year old shouldn't even watch screens, nor should they be restrained for more than an hour at a time in a pram, high chair, or strapped onto a back.
There's more - children from one to four should not only avoid watching TV or using a tablet as much as possible, but they should also spend at least 180 minutes doing a physical activity, ranging from moderate to vigorous-intensity, throughout the day. Here, more is better. If you want to review the full list of recommendations, go here. In our opinion, much of it is obvious, as well as a little impractical for working families.
The guidelines are somewhat similar to what the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, too, though the AAP takes into account the potential benefits of digital media, saying parents should prioritise media with educational value at around 18 months of age. "It's critically important that this be high-quality programming, such as the content offered by Sesame Workshop and PBS," the AAP explained in its guidance.
While neither the WHO or AAP specifically revealed the potential harm of too much screen time, they do note that improving physical activity and reducing sedentary time will improve physical, mental health, and wellbeing, and it'll help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases.