World Health Organization (WHO) issued screen time norms for children to ensure that they grow up to be healthy and fit. They encourage children to play and lead more active lives than wasting the whole day with their eyes glued to TV/mobile screens. According to the United Nations (UN), about 6% of the world’s 40 million children are overweight. Half of them found in Africa and Asia combined!
Cause for concern:
In today’s world, as parents we find it convenient, to allow our children to watch cartoons while we go about our daily work. What may seem as harmless pass-time, is, in fact, quite the opposite. Advancement in technologies and rapid digitisation has augmented the number of entertainment platforms for children, hence causing this addiction, that children today prefer staying at home on their couches, living an extremely sedentary lifestyle.
This sedentary lifestyle is becoming the root cause of many lifestyle diseases:
#1 Childhood Obesity
Lack of physical exercise and incessant munching on junk food make the children obese and lethargic.
#2 Blood pressure
This obesity leads to various other diseases, blood pressure being one of them.
Obesity makes children easy targets for diabetes. If not rectified this becomes a lifelong problem for them.
One major drawback of the screen is that children are continuously glued to it and have no way to exert their bodies or minds. This leads to unwanted weight gain, causes a lack of confidence, lack of social skills, increasingly reclusive and these lead to depression.
The first five years of a human being’s life contributes to the child’s motor and cognitive development and lifelong health. Having assessed the effects on young children of inadequate sleep, and time spent watching screens or restrained in chairs and prams, WHO panel of experts have given new guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age. They also reviewed the evidence around the benefits of increased activity levels.
Keeping in mind these rapidly growing issues, the WHO states that children under 5 years of age must spend less time watching screens or restrained in seats and prams. Children this young should be given more active play time. Consuming a healthy diet, exercising daily, and staying away from too much screen time is what is the need of the hour. Improving physical activity, reducing sedentary time and ensuring quality sleep, will improve their physical, mental health and well-being, and help prevent childhood obesity and associated diseases as adults.