10% of Taiwan kids addicted to smartphones

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Nearly 10 per cent of children aged 11 to 14 are severely addicted to smartphones, using the devices up to once every five minutes, according to the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF).

According to a survey of children in the age group, about 40 per cent have smartphones, 36 per cent of whom check their phones every 30 minutes.

The survey showed that 14 per cent of these children use their smartphones for over three hours on weekdays and nearly 20 per cent of them use their phones for over five hours a day on weekends.

The CWLF also said that 92 per cent of children download games, 60 per cent download music or messaging apps, while 17 per cent use educational apps.

Forty-three per cent of children surveyed said they feel insecure when leaving home without carrying their phone, and 10 per cent said they have argued with their parents about phone use.

Excessive smartphone use exposes children to dangers, the foundation warned, citing the 32 per cent of children who admitted to having added strangers to friend lists when using communication apps. Twenty-three per cent admitted to having met with people they met through such apps.

Chen Ya-hui of the CWLF said that compared to a similar survey conducted two years ago, the number of children who own smartphones has doubled, indicating the device's rise as a basic piece of property for children.

"The wide popularity of smartphone use has become an issue due to a lack of management," Chen said, "which is shown through the survey."

"Some of these children can even access violent and pornographic content because there are too many unrated applications on the markets.

"Most children do not have any idea about protecting themselves, so they actively reveal their personal information to strangers, putting them at great risk."

Chen said that it is better to regulate the amount of time that children spend on their smartphones and teaching them about how to choose appropriate apps.

Most importantly, Chen said, the government should establish a complete system to rate all the applications on the market and label them with clear descriptions.