Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

Researchers in Taiwan are concerned about children overusing digital devices while debate continues on whether parents should share photos of their babies online.

On May 11, the Ministry of Education (MOE) released the results of a survey looking at how digital technology and social media influence family relationships.

Lin Ju-ping, director at the Department of Human Development and Family Studies of National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), led the survey. Lin points out that Taiwanese parents lack knowledge of digital services and suggests setting up rules to prevent their kids from overusing these devices is also important.

According to an earlier survey conducted by the Children Welfare League Foundation in 2014, 32% of Taiwanese children start to use smartphones before the age of two, and 30% of all children use smartphones for more than one hour a day.

In 2015, the Legislative Yuan amended the law to restrict children’s use of digital devices. Children under 18 are not allowed to use digital devices for more than 30 minutes without resting. Parents neglecting the situation may be fined NT$10,000 to NT$50,000 (approximately US$307 to US$1,537).

However, the policy is not thought to be implemented thoroughly and many children still overuse digital devices.


Digital families on the rise

The MOE survey shows Taiwanese increasingly rely on digital devices or services to interact with family members and for parenting.

The survey shows a strong connection between parents and social media when it comes to raising children. More than 70% of parents, especially parents of underage children, search for useful information for parenting on Facebook.

Some parents post images of their children on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. They regard this a way to keep in touch with their relatives. Many of them sign up an account for their babies to share with friends.

However, there have been debates on whether children’s privacy should be protected or not. In France, posting pictures online of one’s children is illegal. Others argue that privacy of toddlers does not matter.

“Parents have to work out what’s right for them, but be aware that this is another person, another human being, who may not thank them for it in 15 years to come,” Nicola Whitton, professor of Manchester Metropolitan University tells the Guardian.


Family relationships improved or not?

In the MOE survey, 75% agree digital technology improves family relationships, 50% think it reduces real interaction and 30% think it will increase conflicts between family members.

More than 70% have family groups on Line, regardless of their age, and 45% of them have family groups on Facebook. In terms of people over 65, more than 60% have Facebook family groups, which is the highest among all age groups.

A netizen, who is also a cartoonist, drew comics on her website showing interaction with her parents in online groups. She complains that her parents make her feel stressed by sending her messages multiple times each day.

“But whatever they send you, it’s only a symbol of their love,” she writes. [Quote translated]

Edited by Edward White

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