Parent skeptical about China's screen time proposals

10 個月前

STORY: At six years old, Arissa Yan is already a smartphone native, having started using one when she was four.

Like many others in China, Arissa's mother Val Yan is worried about cellphone addiction among children.

The government drafted regulations in August limiting minors to a maximum of two hours a day on their smartphones and enforcing a ban on use between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Children under eight would be limited to a maximum of 40 minutes a day. When daily usage time is exceeded, the phone would "automatically close other applications," local media reported.

Val Yan has her doubts about how such a rule could be enforced effectively.

"I am not very sure just how much effect you have after controlling the amount of time a child can use a phone. Because for everyone, there are already senior's mode and children's mode on electronic products. Since we already have this function, is there any research on how effective it is? If companies are adding this on top of the basic function, then I don't know if the efficiency can be improved."

Despite her concerns about internet addiction, she sees phone usage as an important and unavoidable part of modern society.

And Val worries about Arissa falling behind her peers in technological fluency if her screen time is limited too much.

Though child psychologist Sharon Yen supports the introduction of restrictions on screen time, she thinks the focus should be on parent-child relationships rather than limiting phone usage.

"Parents need to try to connect more with their kids, I mean emotionally. And I have to say that under these circumstances, a lot of parents they're busy at work, so they might have no time to connect with their children, and their children have nothing to do so they turn to the smartphones for solutions."

China's cyberspace regulator has not said if it will put the rules into effect, or if so, when.

Val hopes that instead of the restrictive policies, the government will subsidize extracurricular activities for families and give children opportunities to socialize.