The Department of Health is urging parents not to allow their children to use mobile phones and tablet computers at too early an age and restrict their usage time after a survey showed problems arising from such mobile devices have worsened, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The survey, which was conducted last month, interviewed 766 parents who have children aged under six, 482 pupils and 80 parents whose children are attending primary schools. Altogether, there were 1,328 interviewees.
It found that 13 percent of pupils spend more than three hours online every day, a fourfold increase from 2.6 percent found in a similar survey in 2014, while the time length is less than two hours.
About 53 percent of pupils had quarreled with their parents over using the internet or electronic screen products, and more than three in 10 have either given up outdoor activities for online time, cut their sleep time or seen their academic performance deteriorate, according to the survey.
Nearly four in five of the parents admitted they had quarreled with their children about use of internet or electronic screen products, and 63 percent agreed that their children’s daily life has been affected by spending too much time online.
The median age of pre-school children who watch television and use a smartphone for the first time is one year old, while that for tablet computers is one year and half.
Dr. Thomas Chung, the department’s consultant for community medicine of its student health service, warned that development of children’s eyes and bones can be hindered by overuse of the internet or electronic screen products.
He also said users of such devices should keep a distance at 30 cm. from the screen of a smartphone and 40 cm. for a tablet computer.
In addition, he called on parents to control the time their children can use mobile devices and spend more time interacting with their children.
Meanwhile, Dr. Elda Chan, supervisor at the Integrated Centre on Addiction Prevention and Treatment of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, said a total of 153 children in primary and secondary schools, had come for help with their online video game addiction in the past two years. The youngest was nine years old.
Many of them also showed signs of mental health problems.
Chan urged parents not to use video games as a reward for their children but teach them to see the internet as a tool that can make life more convenient.
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