Children who spend more than two hours on smartphones and other electronic devices are more likely to become overweight than other kids in their age group, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported on Wednesday, citing a recent report published by Department of Health.
A survey of 1,428 pre-school children (aged under six) showed that half of them have been watching television since they were eight months old, playing with a computer tablet since 18 months old, with less than 15 percent of them doing so under the supervision of parents.
Doctors have warned that using these electronic devices at a very young age could delay a child’s speech development, while children below two years old should not be allowed to use them to prevent addiction.
Among primary and secondary school students, 20 percent said they spend over three hours using the internet, while 20 percent said they would lie on the time they spend online.
About 65 percent of the students’ parents said they often have quarrels with their children because of excessive use of the internet and electronic devices.
Half of the students said they have fewer hours of sleep because of the time they spend on surfing the internet, while 45 percent said their academic performance suffered as a result.
Dr. Thomas Chung, a consultant at the Department of Health, said while the use of electronic devices has become a global trend, parents should be reminded not to use them as pacifiers on their kids.
Dr. Anita Tsang from the Hong Kong College of Pediatricians, said parents need to interact with their babies, adding that a one-month-old baby can only sense light from the screen of an electronic device, without understanding what it is for. Using these devices at a very young age could delay their speech development, hurt their social interaction abilities and shorten their attention span, the report said.
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