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Parents told to limit screen time for kids

If phones and tablets are being employed as babysitters, they should be limited to one-hour shifts for children under five, according to new parenting guidelines.

Screen time for newborns to two-years-olds is not advised at all, while toddlers and young children up to the age of five should be limited to one hour a day.

Babies should get between 12 and 17 hours of good quality sleep, toddlers 11 to 14 hours and pre-schoolers 10 to 13 hours.

Health Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday launched the federal government's 24-Hour Movement Guidelines which are designed to help parents develop healthy routines.

"It's best to minimise the passive screen time and it's best to increase the active play time," Mr Hunt told reporters at Parliament House's childcare centre.

"The sandpit and the slide are better than the screen."

University of Wollongong Professor Tony Okely, who led the research, warned fast and quick transitions and flashing lights from screens could impact a child's brain development.

He said language development could also be affected if screen-time replaced conversations.

"We can be physically active but if we're compromising our sleep or spending too much time in screen-based entertainment, that's going to compromise our health," Professor Okely said.

Mr Hunt admitted meeting the guidelines could be tough for busy parents, but said they would encourage people to do the right thing more often.

He said the World Heath Organisation is looking at adopting the guidelines, which were developed in partnership with Canada.

© AAP 2017

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