Warning issued on e-products use (8.7.2014)

(Summary of the government news)

The Department of Health has warned of health risks for people using Internet and electronic screen products, particularly children.

Releasing an advisory group report on the issue today, the department's Consultant Community Medicine (Student Health Service) Dr Thomas Chung said that while the Internet and related technology can benefit everyday life, they also bring health risks and he warned that people should use them wisely.

The department's survey found the median age when pre-schoolers start using tablet computers is 16 months. The youngest starting age was recorded as less than one month old.

However, it also found that less than 20% of the surveyed parents always accompanied their children using these products.

The report makes recommendations on the healthy use of the products by children, adolescents, parents and teachers.

(Full text of the news)

(narrator’s transcript)
A recent Department of Health Survey on the use of the internet and electronic screen products, such as tablets and smartphones, found that the youngest user was a newborn under the age of one month. The survey revealed that the median age that preschoolers start to watch television is eight months and for using tablet PCs, 16 months. Only about 10% of parents supervise their preschool children's use of these gadgets.

(graphic highlights)
Median age
Televisions: 8 months
DVDs: 10 months
Tablet PCs: 16 months
PCs: 24 months

(narrator’s transcript)
20% of primary and secondary school students spent more than 3 hours a day online. About half of parents surveyed believed their children had spent too much time online, affecting their daily lives and prompting some to quarrel with their children. The survey also indicated students always or occasionally gave up sleep to go online, felt that their academic performance was negatively affected, gave up outdoor activities and deceived their parents or teachers about the time they spent online.

(graphic highlights)
Gave up sleep to go online: 49%
Academic performance was negatively affected: 45%
Gave up outdoor activities: 37%
Deceived parents or teaches about the time spent online: 19%

(Transcript of Dr. Thomas Chung, Department of Health, Consultant Community Medicine)
The younger the children spent the time in this electronic screen product, (the more they will do spend the time on this product and) the less they will have the chance to participate in other activities. Children of very young age should participate in more interactive activities with their parents. For pre-school children, they need to have at least three hours a day physical activities. And for other school children, they need to have at least one-hour a day physical activities.

(narrator’s transcript)
The Department has published leaflets with recommendations for healthy use of the internet, and electronic screen products for parents, teachers and students.

From Hong Kong’s Information Services Department

Student Health Service, Department of Health