Most people agree that too much time in front of the TV, tablet or smartphone isn’t healthy. Now, the Taiwanese government has taken steps to actually make it illegal.
As a part of the revised “Child and Youth Welfare and Protection Act,” the Taiwanese government can issue fines up to $1,595 (about $50,000 Taiwanese dollars) to parents who let their children spend excessive amounts of time in front of an electronic device. How much is too much? That part is a little unclear. According to Time, the language states that parents will be held responsible if the child’s media consumption “exceeds a reasonable time.”
Rather than citing a maximum amount of minutes per day, Kotaku reports that parents may be penalized if a child spends so long in front of a device that he or she becomes physically or mentally ill.
Many people in Taiwan are not happy about the new law, with some questioning how it would be monitored and enforced, and if this new restriction violates personal privacy, reports Kotaku.
Even though there are concerns about government overreach, study after study has shown that there’s merit to the intention behind the law. Spending too much time in front of a screen has been linked to anti-social behaviors, depression and loneliness, physical damage to the brain, childhood obesity, unhealthy eating habits, sleep problems and stress. A 2014 study found that children who had less exposure to technology were better at reading human emotions.
It's because of findings like these that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting children to one to two hours of media consumption per day. If a child is under 2 years old, no time in front of a screen is recommended.
However, what's good for children and what's happening in reality are two very different things. The AAP website notes: “A recent study shows that the average 8- to 10-year-old spends nearly 8 hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media. About 75 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging.”
Considering the potential effects of staring at a screen for long periods of time, those numbers are concerning. Perhaps that’s why this new Taiwanese law puts screen time in the same category as smoking, drinking, using drugs, and chewing betel nuts.
Enforceable or not, the law may get parents to think about the dangers of too much media consumption.
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