KIDS under two should never be allowed to watch TV, tablets or smartphones, according to the World Health Organization.
The first ever global guidance on physical activity and sleep for young children recommends zero screen time for tots.
Swap TV for play time
Experts say for those aged two to four, the maximum daily limit is just one hour, with the less the better.
They claim limiting telly time and smartphone use helps boosts brain development and physical skills, and slashes obesity risk.
Kids should instead be encouraged to run around, play and read stories with adults.
But UK researchers said the advice is based on flimsy evidence.
The report says parents of over-1s should ensure their children get a minimum of three hours exercise.
At least 60 minutes of this activity should be vigorous – such as football, swimming and dancing – for those aged three and four.
Youngsters should also not spend periods of longer than an hour in car seats, high chairs, prams or carriers, according to the guidelines aimed at under-5s.
WHO experts admit the strict limits may be hard for busy parents to enforce – but said the benefits outweigh any potential harms.
Sitting fuels obesity
The guidance concludes: “Physical inactivity has been identified as a leading risk factor for global mortality and a contributor to the rise in overweight and obesity.
“Sedentary behaviours, whether riding motorised transport rather than walking or cycling, sitting at a desk in school, watching TV or playing inactive screen-based games are increasingly prevalent and associated with poor health outcomes.”
Earlier this year, the nation’s top doctors said TVs should be turned off every couple of hours and phones put away during meal times.
In the first official UK advice on screen time, the Government’s medical advisors said parents must ensure devices do not interfere with children’s sleep, exercise and education.
But the Chief Medical Officers’ report fell short of stating a “safe” amount of daily use due to a lack of scientific evidence.
New advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also opposes screen time limits.
Blunt limits aren’t helpful
Responding to the new guidance, Dr Max Davie from the RCPCH, warned blunt limits may have “unintended consequences”.
He said: “While it is important for children to be as active as possible, the barriers are more frequently to do with housing, work patterns, family stress, and lack of access to play spaces rather than actively choosing to be sedentary.
“The restricted screen time limits suggested by the WHO do not seem proportionate to the potential harm.
“Currently there is not strong enough evidence to support the setting of screen time limits.
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“Also, it is difficult to see how a household with mixed-age children can shield a baby from any screen exposure at all.”
The WHO guidance also states kids aged one to four should get around 12 hours sleep daily.
Dr Mike Brannan, from Public Health England, said: “Being active plays an important role in good health and development from an early age.
“We need to help our children move more and sit less – every movement counts, whether playing, dancing or walking.”