June 4, 2015
Taiwan have legislated on ‘screen time’ for children under 18, making it illegal for them to use electronic devices for excessive periods of time. The fine for breaching this law is around $1,600, which I am sure you will agree would be a little painful on the family finances.
While most of us can appreciate the idea of this law, I am sure like me you read it and realize this is a non-enforceable and probably not practical.
Think about the devices that our young people use, smartphones, tablets, laptops, games consoles, MP3 players, TV’s and more… The list is seemingly endless and many of them are used for very different purposes.
Does revising on a laptop ahead of exams at school break this law? One could argue that a fine on excessive “gaming” could be justified but this law doesn’t go nearly far enough on the details. Computers and connected devices are used for so much more than wasting time and they can have real constructive educational merit.
I don’t think any government can or should legislate on something that is difficult to enforce and should be the decision of a responsible parent or guardian.
It is important that we balance the screen or connected time of our children with offline activities like swimming, cycling or other pastimes. Interestingly, when writing this I considered where reading belonged. Is it screen time or non-screen time? I remember my childhood and being told to go and read rather than watching TV, of course with today’s e-readers, it maybe just be additional screen time.
The other consideration here is that we, as an older generation, look on screen time as different, or even negative. Our children are growing up with screen time just being a regular part of life. Their perception of screen time, and tech in general will be very different to ours. Our own Digital Diaries research pointed at this several years ago when we saw that children were learning digital skills before life skills.
I wonder how many adults would admit to spending too much time attached to screens and are setting a bad example to their children? After all, they follow our lead...
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June 4, 2015 by Tony Anscombe