Asian Insider April 25: WHO weighs in on screen-time debate

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents.


In the first guidelines of its kind from the World Health Organisation, parents are told to limit the amount of time their children spend watching screens. It recommends that children under five should not spend more than an hour a day being sedentary in front of a screen, while those less than one should not be allowed any screen time at all.

The big HD picture: The issue of how much screen time children should have is a topic of much debate among parenting experts and while the WHO may be the most authoritative institution to weigh in to date, it appears to be careful not to get into the more contentious points. WHO’s limits are argued entirely on the basis of the need for kids to be active, something they are not when seated watching TV or playing games on an iPad. It does not get into the debate on whether screen time as any impact on cognitive ability, development and attention span. That debate will rage on.

Further reading:

WHO recommends 1-hour maximum screen time per day for under-5s, no electronic screens for infants under 1

Are kids getting enough physical activity?


Two of the world’s most controversial strongmen leaders met in the eastern Russian town of Vladivostok today. This was never a summit that was going to end with some kind of agreement or even a press conference but Russian President Vladimir Putin did tell reporters that he and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un had a “meaningful exchange of views”.

The big picture: While there are some concrete deliverables Kim wants from Putin (aid and trade especially), the lack of fanfare around this historic meeting is an indication of its limited implications beyond Pyongyang and Moscow. For the two leaders, though, this is a win-win meeting. As one observer put it, from this summit, Russia can demonstrate relevance, while Kim can demonstrate to the US that he has options.

Full story: Putin says he discussed situation on Korean peninsula with Kim


Leaders from around the region are gathering in Beijing for the 3-day Belt and Road Summit. On the first day, Chinese finance minister Liu Kun said that China intends to make the BRI sustainable and prevent debt risks, adding that the government will soon release an analysis framework for debt sustainability.

The big picture: Based on the opening sessions, China clearly wants to use this opportunity to change the narrative on its global infrastructure programme. In recent years, the BRI has been accused of being a “debt trap” favouring Chinese companies, a vanity project and trojan horse for Chinese influence. China intends to make the case that much of the BRI is misunderstood and also wants to show that it is willing to make changes in response to criticisms.

Full story: China aims to make Belt and Road sustainable, prevent debt risk


Facebook beat forecasts in the first quarter of this year, with revenue rising 26 percent to US$15.1 billion. It also announced that it would set aside US$3 billion to cover a settlement with US regulators currently investigating the inappropriate sharing of data with Cambridge Analytica.

The big picture: The stellar numbers, coming not just after a spate of damaging scandals, but also an ongoing push by countries around the world to more tightly regulate the platform, shows just how resilient the company’s profits are. Clearly advertisers and investors continue to see value in the platform and do not now see that the tighter state or regulation or pushback due to its use as a tool for hostile foreign agents attempting to intervene in elections will have long-lasting damage on the company’s ability to make money.

Full story:Facebook blows past profit estimates, sets aside US$3b for privacy penalty


The only thing you really need to know about this selfie is that it is real. No photoshop was used here. It was taken by a caretaker at the Virunga National Park. The park did however stress that the photo was taken under exceptional circumstances and you should not approach a gorilla in the wild.


Sri Lanka deployed thousands of troops overnight to help police search for suspects in Easter suicide bomb attacks claimed by the Islamic State group that killed nearly 360 people. The government has acknowledged "major" lapses over its failure to prevent the horrific attacks despite receiving specific intelligence warnings.

Thailand's Constitutional Court rejected a petition by the Election Commission (EC) seeking its ruling on the method of calculating and allocating party-list seats.The court's decision is seen as a setback for the poll agency, as it must now resolve the seat-calculation formula without violating the Constitution, and that could lead to a delay in forming the new government.

A Japanese court granted Carlos Ghosn bail meaning the former Nissan boss could soon walk out of his Tokyo detention centre to prepare his defence against multiple charges of financial misconduct.

That’s it for today, thanks and see you tomorrow.