Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

08 August 2017

Hong Kong: Screen Time On Rise As Toddlers Given Electronic Devices as 'E-Pacifiers' from Before Age of One

Screen time on rise as Hong Kong toddlers given electronic devices as ‘e-pacifiers’ from before age of one
by Emily Tsangscmp.com, 3 August 2017

Department of Health warns excessive use of screens at such a young age could harm the development of eyes and bones as well as have a negative effect on exercise intake and interpersonal skills

Toddlers in Hong Kong younger than the age of one are being given electronic devices as “e-pacifiers”, while the number of children spending long hours on devices is five times higher than three years ago, the Department of Health has found.

This has led to more family quarrels and sparked worries about the effect on academic performance, according to the department’s survey which polled 1,300 preschool children, primary school pupils and their parents.

According to the poll the median age for toddlers to use a smartphone for the first time was at the age of one.

Doctors warned this habit could hinder the development of children’s eyes and bones, reduce the amount of exercise they take, worsen their interpersonal skills and make them more prone to addictive behaviour in later life.

Switch off your phones and play outside, Hong Kong children told

“We understand the use of electronic products has become more popular over the years due to the development of technology, so such a trend is understandable,” said Dr Thomas Chung Wai-hung, the department’s consultant community medicine of student health service.

“But it also means there is a need to be aware of the problems behind such trend and give good advice to parents and teachers.”

The median age for watching television screens for the first time was also found to be one, a slight delay from eight months in 2014.

Chung said he understood why parents might use such products as an “electronic pacifier” to calm or entertain their offspring, but the department did not advise children below the age of two using devices with screens.

“Toddlers must interact with people in real life to develop good interpersonal skills,” said Chung. “Spending too much time on screens could also affect the development of their eyes and bones.”

Kenny Yu Chun-kit, a senior lecturer in the department of information technology at the Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee), agreed.

All work and no play: why more Hong Kong children are having mental health problems

“While [touchscreen devices] have value in learning, such as being interactive, children should not spend too much time on them and should not start too young.”

The poll also found that 13.1 per cent of primary school pupils spent more than three hours a day surfing the internet – five times higher than 2.6 per cent in 2014.

Some 32 per cent of them believed they slept less because of the internet, 39 per cent said the habit had affected their academic performance and 51 per cent said there were more family quarrels as a result.

Yet, the survey also found only 6.2 to 19.6 per cent of parents said they supervised their children when using electronic devices.

Chung advised parents to set a good example of a balanced life and encouraged them to take part in more outdoor activities.

Yu said children should only start using devices when they reach the age of six and advised a limit of just 15 to 30 minutes a day for young children.

“While [touch screen devices] have their value in learning, such as being interactive, children should not spend too much time on them and should not start at too young an age.”

He explained that studies have shown that using these devices result in eyes blinking less frequently, leaving them more dry and hindering their development.

The poll also suggested that 13.1 per cent primary school pupils said they spent more than three hours a day on surfing the internet, five times higher than 2.6 per cent in 2014.

Some 32 per cent of them believed they slept less because of the internet, 39 per cent said the habit had affected their academic performance and 51 per cent said there were more family quarrels as a result.

Many young Hongkongers unable to control their smartphone addiction, new survey finds

Yet, the survey found fewer parents were accompanying their children when using electronic devices. Only 6.2 to 19.6 per cent of parents stayed with children under the age of six during the time they used the screens.

Chung advised parents to set a good example of a balanced life and encouraged them to take part in more outdoor activities and physical exercise, instead of spending time glued to screens.

Yu said children should only start using devices when they reach the age of six and to limit young children to spending just 15 to 30 minutes on them in one day.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:
Toddlers using smartphones, tablets even before turning one

No comments:

Post a Comment