Lawmakers in Taiwan have revised the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act to regulate the amount of time children can spend using electronic devices.
The new law provides the government the power to fine parennts if they are unable to prevent their children from using electronic gadgets for “a period of time that is not reasonable,” writes Lee Seok Hwai of the Straits Times.
The modified regulation now brings excessive electronic device usage in the same category as other common vices such as smoking, drinking, drugs and watching sexual or violent imagery, writes Kabir Chibber of Quartz.
Parents and legal guardians who allow their children to stare at a screen for an extent that degrades their physical or mental health can now be fined up to NT $50,000 (S$2,150 and US$1,600), according to the amendment.
However, the new law did not clarify the definition of a “reasonable” amount of time. It is also based on the assumption that parents will be taking a long enough break to notice their children’s overuse and does not factor the damage to children by parents who themselves stay electronically connected.
The new legislation follows the line of rulings in China and South Korea which both promote a healthy level of gadget usage time. China continues to attempt to discourage excessive online gaming while South Korea has classified online games and e-sports as addictive substances.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum of two hours daily of screen time for children. It also discouraged the set up of television and Internet access in children’s bedrooms, writes David Nield of Digital Trends.
Teenagers tend to spend up to eleven hours each day with some form of media or another, while a recent study revealed that US eight year olds tend to engage themselves with electronic displays on an average of eight hours per day.
Child development psychologists continue to encourage more unstructured play time for children.
Success of the new Taiwanese law could result in an overall reduction of electronic gadget addiction within a number of countries, and can help to prevent nomophobia, or ”no mobile phobia”, which is the fear of being without one’s electronic device.
The amendment is backed by Pope Francis, who urged families to employ less time over the Internet and more in having a proper direct conversation with one another.
“The great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information. The latter is a tendency which our important and influential modern communications media can encourage.”