child and youth welfare protection act

Fined For NOT Monitoring: Taiwan’s New Parenting Penalty

child and youth welfare protection act

Is it time to start enforcing healthier media habits? According to Taiwan’s government, the answer is yes – on January 23, 2015, the Taiwanese government updated the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (PCYWRA) to expand its restrictions into the realm of electronic media.

The revision to the law, which was proposed by Kuomintang lawmaker Lu Shiow-yen and applies to children under the age of 18, stipulates that children are no longer to be allowed to use electronic products for “an unreasonable amount of time”.

While the revision doesn’t cite what a reasonable amount of time is, parents and guardians could be fined as much as NT$50,000 (about $1600 US Dollars) for any use of electronics judged to have caused physical or mental illness for a child.

Other revisions were added to the PCYWRA at the same time, including a note banning children under two from using many types of electronic gadgets.

Where Will Taiwan Go From Here?

We believe that monitoring the use of electronic devices is an important part of helping children grow up to be healthy, independent people – and this new legislation raises some important questions about the role of governments in deciding how much use children should be permitted.

For example, how will Taiwan ultimately end up enforcing this law? The notes on illness suggest that it might come up if a child is taken to see a doctor and excessive use of electronics is pinpointed as a cause, but there’s no way to tell what Taiwan will ultimately end up doing.

Defining a reasonable amount of time for use of devices is another challenge – though as more studies seem to be settling around two hours a day for older children, it’s possible that the PCYWRA will be amended to that effect at some point in the future.

child and youth welfare protection act

Finally, evidence is mounting that spending too much time in front of any screen is a real health risk, while parents consistently underestimate how many hours children use devices for. It seems clear that excessive use of devices is becoming a real problem for society, and while we’re not sure that national legislation is the right solution, we are glad to see Taiwan making a serious attempt to curb addiction to electronics.

How To Help Your Teen

One of the most unfortunate results of the development of technology is that we don’t know the impact it can have on our children. If we knew twenty years ago what we know today about the impact of electronic devices on social development, there’s a good chance we’d already have countless laws on the books seeking to minimize the usage of electronics and encourage offline behavior.

To keep your teen safe, there are a few reliable things you can do. These include:

  • Encouraging children to develop hobbies outside of electronic devices, ideally outdoors and taking some time to travel to
  • Limiting the use of electronic devices to a specified number of hours
  • Making use of alternative sources of information, such as heading to the library
  • Supporting offline meetups, play-dates, and other gatherings with friends
  • Taking a child’s device away from them when you’ve decided they’re done for the day
  • Performing independent research and regularly checking for new studies on how the use of electronics can impact children

The developments in Taiwan are an interesting case, as it represents an important test of the value of monitoring and restricting the use of digital devices. We’ll continue to explore this idea in our next series focusing on Digital Readiness. First up will be  “Part I: The Changing Face of Childhood.”

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