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Recommendations for Screen Time for Children Under 5 Years old


The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released updated recommendations for physical activity for children under 5 years of age. Included in this report were recommendations for screen time on electronic devices by age:

Infant (less than one year): Screen time is NOT recommended.

1-2 Years old: No more than an hour for 2 year olds and NO screen time recommended for 1 year olds. 

3 to 4 Years old: No more than one hour of screen time. 

Limiting screen time for young children encourages active play and reduces sedentary behavior, which is linked with obesity and other health risks. 

Sedentary behavior in small children can have significant effects on their development including:

Reduced fine motor skills needed for writing.

Reduced eye contact, vocabulary and communication skills.

Reduced attention and poor decision making skills. 

Reduced creativity and problem solving skills. 

We know that electronics including smartphones and tablets are a common occurrence in most homes. We can not always keep kids off the screens, but we recommend introducing a regimen  to screen time with breaks every 20 minutes. Consider adding blue light filters to computer screens and turning on the blue light filter on smartphones and tablets if available. 


Written by Dr. Cheryl Everitt

Cheryl M. Everitt, OD, received her Doctor of Optometry degree from the Southern California College of Optometry in Fullerton, California in 1994. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Everitt takes a special interest in treating patients with a variety of difficult eye conditions, such as chronic headaches and migraines. Dr. Everitt has been a conference speaker on topics ranging from contact lenses to practice management to trigeminal dysphoria. She has also participated in a mobile eye clinic in Riverside, and medical missions to Mexico. Dr. Everitt is one of the original founders of 20/20 Vision Associates Optometry and has practiced for 25 years. She was an associate research scientist for 4 years prior to becoming an optometrist. She is also an active member of her church.
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