As the Internet comes a constant presence in children's lives, parents should seek to limit their "screen-time" to prevent Internet addiction, an academic told reporters yesterday.
"Internet addiction and overuse have become a serious problem around the world. More and more teenagers are living in the virtual world and have trouble adapting to society," Huang Wei-wei (
According to a survey of elementary school children released in July by the I-Link Community Service Association, a civil group dedicated to promoting Internet safety, most third and fourth grade students spend 10 hours every week surfing the Internet, and about 30 percent of them go online to play games.
If a child spends more than 14 hours a week on the Internet and gets frustrated or depressed once prohibited from using the Internet, he or she can be regarded an Internet addict, Huang warned.
James Hsueh, (
Besides paying attention to children's Internet use, Irene Huang (黃琴伶), a writer who specializes in family-related issues, suggested that parents should spend more time with their children.
"My son is only allowed to use the Internet 20 minutes every week ? But we go swimming, biking and participate in all kinds of outdoor events and keep him so busy that he doesn't think about surfing the Internet," she said.
Huang said even though the Internet is an important learning tool and is a useful medium to keep up with the latest information, parents should not allow their children to depend on it.
"Children who become Internet addicts will lose the ability to communicate with others and may well be shut out from society," she said.
The department provides counseling for teenagers in four service centers around the city, and encouraged parents and teenagers to take advantage of the service.