Nearly 40 percent of students from fifth through eighth grade show symptoms of cellphone addiction, a report published by the Child Welfare League Committee on Wednesday shows.
Out of 4,269 valid samples collected in 19 counties and cities in May, 37.4 percent revealed that the first thing students did in the morning was check their cellphones, executives of the civic group told a press conference.
Up to 26.6 percent of students polled used cellphones while commuting to school and 9.9 percent admitted using phones during lessons.
During the evening, 21.8 percent said they used their phones until after 11pm.
Moreover, as many as 45.9 percent of the children said they spent too much time using their cellphones, and nearly 40 percent showed symptoms of cellphone addiction.
The survey also observed that cellphone usage among Taiwanese children in urban areas grew 22 percent compared with six years ago.
Now, more than half of fifth and sixth graders are cellphone users, compared with 69.1 percent of seventh graders and 71.5 percent of eighth graders.
Cellphone usage in Taiwan is much higher than in China, where only 46.6 percent of the population in the 10-to-18 age group use cellphones, and Japan where 45.9 percent of 14-year-olds are cellphone users.
Cellphone usage among 12-year-olds in the US stands at 56 percent.
Nearly 60 percent of children in Taiwan said they spend less than five minutes per day chatting on their cellphones, the report said.
Most children use their cellphones to do other things, such as texting, listening to music, taking photos, recording and watching videos, playing online games and surfing the Internet, the report said.
Child Welfare League Committee executive director Alicia Wang (王育敏) said she would advise parents not to spend too much money purchasing smartphones for their children.
Instead, parents should give children cellphones with basic functions, set cellphone usage rules and monitor cellphone usage, she said.
Wang also recommended that parents try not allow their children to use cellphones at a very young age.