22 October 2016
Hong Kong school children spend more than two hours a day on home work, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ
Hong Kong school children spend more than two hours a day on home work, according to a survey. Photo: HKEJ

Children’s happiness index falls to new low in HK: survey

The happiness index of Hong Kong children has fallen to a new low, largely due to pressure arising out of increased homework, a study showed. 

According to Lingnan University’s Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS), the overall happiness index among local children stood at 6.49, down from 6.74 in a previous study and marking the lowest since the institute began conducting such surveys in 2012.

However, what is comforting is that the score still stood north of 6 points, the line of demarcation between happiness and unhappiness. 

For its survey, CPPS researchers interviewed 1,146 primary four to secondary three students from nine primary and 14 secondary schools, as well as 1,509 parents.

The interviews were conducted between October 2015 and January this year.

In terms of age groups, the happiness scores among the age group of eight to nine and the 14-year-olds displayed the biggest drops in the latest survey.

The score among children aged eight to nine fell to 6.86 points from 7.25 in the previous year, while in the case of 14-year-olds the figure fell to 6.15 from 6.55.

The survey found that the higher the pressure from homework, the lower the happiness score.

For children aged eight to nine, they have to spend an average of 151 minutes per day on homework, while primary five and six students were spending an average of 139 and 133 minutes per day, respectively, to complete school assignments.

Ho Lok-sang, a professor at Lingnan University, noted that many parents place a big emphasis on academic performance of their children and are exerting pressure on the kids, am730 reported.

There is also a social phenomenon of comparing between one and other on achievements, he said. Also, schools are giving more work load to the kids in a bid to help them boost their grades.

Ho said he is concerned that the increasingly unhappy mental state of students would have a negative impact on their personal development in the future.

Tik Chi-yuen, chief executive of the Hong Kong Institute of Family Education, said the situation is alarming as society is putting too much of a burden on students.

The first thing that parents should observe is to control their emotions before attempting to improve their children’s mental well-being, Tik said. As a rule of thumb, parents should also remember to avoid starting a conversation by asking if a student has finished his homework, he said.

Psychiatrist Ivan Mak Wing-chit told Sky Post that there were cases where students who managed to get into elite schools later developed self-destructive behavior and even refused to go to schools because of the enormous pressure.

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