Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Early mobile device exposure risky

By Chiu Yi-chun and Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

About a fifth of first and second-graders spend more than two hours every day using mobile devices or watching TV, exposing them to the risks of myopia, high blood pressure and high blood lipids, a survey showed.

The John Tung Foundation said it recently surveyed parents of seven to eight-year-old children and collected more than 6,000 valid samples. The results showed that up to 20 percent of students spend more than two hours daily in front of a screen.

An earlier poll, conducted by the Health Promotion Administration in 2009, showed that preschool and elementary-school children spend an average of two hours watching TV or using a handheld device, and that number rises to 3.6 hours and six hours respectively on weekends.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is unhealthy for children under three years old to be exposed to television, the Internet, video games or computers.

For children aged three to 15, the maximum recommended time to engage in the above activities is one hour, it said.

Lu Ta-wen (呂大文), an ophthalmologist at the Tri-Service General Hospital, said parents should take heed that the smaller the screen on a device is, the more harmful it is to the eyes.

Students should take a 10-minute break to allow their eyes to rest each time after they have stared at a screen for 50 minutes, he added.

The John Tung Foundation’s survey also indicated that the more time children spend indoors after school, the greater the chance that they will consume unhealthy food, and the less likely it is that their parents will cook for them.

Statistics showed that among kids who spend more than three hours on indoor activities, 40 percent drink sugary beverages; 20 percent consume fried food; and 10 percent eat snacks on a daily basis.

Only 30 percent of these children are lucky enough to have parents who cook meals for them on a regular basis, the survey showed.

Foundation director Hsu Hui-yu (許惠玉) encouraged parents to let their kids help prepare meals during summer vacation, so they can enjoy eating at home.

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