The World Health Organization is worried about how much time your children are spending in front of electronic screens.
The U.N. agency said the mesmerizing effects of videos may be keeping young kids from building sophisticated social skills that are central to human development. CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg spoke to parents in Los Angeles to see what they think.
Like many Americans, Emily and Nathan Miller struggle over how much screen time their little ones should have.
“We talk a lot with other parent friends. And we follow our gut. And what’s your gut. My gut is as little as we can get away with.”
And the World Health Organization said not that much. Baby Judah, it said, should get zero screen time. Two-year-old Leeba can have a little. But very little. Which in today’s age, parents admit, isn’t so easy.
“They’re growing up in a moment where you have the internet-of-things, you have people who are going be having professional lives because of all of this kind of technology. And I think to have your kids exposed to zero is also a problem. And we’re just trying to do our best. My kid just barfed on my shoulder,” Emily Miller said.
But not all screens are created equal, “There are ed-tech – education technology – start-ups and apps that are happenings, where people are really basing it in learning science, and thinking about educational experiences for kids. I think those can sometimes be very valuable, said Revital Heller High”
The mother-of-one and former teacher now develops digital content. She said screen-time can be a social equalizer… giving more children access to early education. She also said learning digital skills at an early age can be good.
“The thing she actually likes to do most on the iPad and the iPhone is just to like push the buttons and see what happens, and swipe from side to side. She actually figured out how to pinch and zoom,” High said. “It’s not academic, but it’s educational. She’s understanding cause and effect. She’s learning basically digital literacy. She’s problem-solving. She figured out that the home button takes you out of the thing you are in. ”
One of the biggest problems is that there’s simply not enough conclusive evidence. The technology is still relatively new, it’s quickly changing, and it’s unclear what the long effects will be. And there’s not really any widespread agreement over what actually constitutes screen time.
Miller added, “You have to know your kid, and you have to pay attention to your kid and pay attention to what they are consuming.”
Juana Willumsen on the WHO’s screen time guidelines for children
For more on-screen time for children, CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg sat down with Juana Willumsen, from the World Health Organization. She focuses on childhood obesity and encourages physical activity for children. She began by explaining why the WHO thought it necessary to release these guidelines.