Screen Time

Why Is Sit Less, Play More a Controversial Idea?

In case you missed it, the World Health Organization just came out with a bold new recommendation. Kids should sit less and play more. Glowing rectangles? Before they’re two, kids simply don’t need them. Over two, more than an hour per day is too much and less is best. Kids need plenty of time for physical play and plenty of time for sleep.

An Extreme Approach?

Euripides advised to question everything, learn something, and answer nothing. In that spirit, Sarah Rose tells us that WHO’s “extreme new approach” will do very little good. High-quality screen time can have developmental benefits, she says. Other guidelines are less severe and more flexible. She commends guidelines from the Royal College of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics instead.

All this seems like hair splitting to us. Nobody is recommending screen time for infants. Everybody is saying less is best for toddlers.

Glued to Our Screens at the Expense of Health?

As a matter of fact, we might all benefit from learning skills for setting aside the glowing rectangles. Catherine Price tells us that putting down the phone might help us live longer by reducing stress. In some situations, smartphone use can increase biomarkers for stress. Adolescents seem to be the most vulnerable.

Should we fear our phones? Is screen time toxic? Maybe not. But there’s nothing especially controversial about having our kids sit less and play more. And turning off the glowing rectangles a bit more often wouldn’t be a bad idea for grownups, either.

Click here, here, and here for more on the WHO guidance.

Screen Time, photograph © anandirc / flickr

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May 7, 2019

2 Responses to “Why Is Sit Less, Play More a Controversial Idea?”

  1. May 07, 2019 at 8:35 am, Mary-Jo said:

    “ If a child is fed when he is hungry, played with when he needs attention, and encouraged to be active when he is restless, he is not likely to grow up inhibited and passive or overstuffed and helpless, unable to control his eating because every discomfort is misinterpreted as a need to eat.” Hilda Bruch, circa 1974

  2. May 07, 2019 at 8:18 pm, Michael said:

    Euripides was on the money. Unfortunately folks in power with biases use a lack of clarity on obesity as a valid reason to wait for better evidence. Whilst clarity needs to be pursued, a lack of it is no excuse for inaction. In the face of available evidence, inaction exposes ignorance or bias. We need to fix ignorance and call out bias after that.