Most children in disadvantaged households occupy themselves with electronic devices, largely due to both parents being busy with work or other things, a Chinese Christian Relief Association survey showed.
About 60 percent of children in low-income households spend excessive time on online activity, which often results from feelings of helplessness and lack of success in life that children experience when they have nobody to spend time with, the association said yesterday.
The association conducted the survey among the children of 2,422 families it provides social assistance to and released the results ahead of Children’s Day, which is today.
Photo courtesy of the Chinese Christian Relief Association
The survey showed that 62 percent of respondents spend their free time watching TV, 59 percent play online games, and 47 percent watch videos online through social media.
About 30 percent said they read books, and about 20 percent said they play with toys, it showed.
“Online games are clearly having a noticeable effect on social and leadership skills, creativity and a feeling of success among the children of disadvantaged families,” the association said.
Association social welfare director Liang Chia-hung (梁佳宏) said there was a growing trend of children becoming addicted to online activities due to a lack of proper guidance when they experience setbacks or other negative experiences early in life.
Citing an example, Liang said that the daughter of one family the association helps said she kept herself locked in her room to avoid witnessing domestic violence committed by her father.
Liang quoted the second-grader as saying that she used her mother’s old cellphone to entertain herself until the early morning hours, which affected her studies due to lack of sleep.
The girl began opening up to others after she experienced kindness from classmates in a tutoring class, Liang said, adding that the girl’s grades improved after the cellphone was taken away.
While there are some benefits to online activities, it is best to restrict children’s Internet use, he said.
“If you find yourself unable to communicate with your child, try to understand their online activity,” he said.
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