Taiwan revises law to restrict amount of time children spend on electronic devices

The new regulation stipulates that juveniles "may not constantly use electronic products for a period of time that is not reasonable," according to the amendment. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The new regulation stipulates that juveniles "may not constantly use electronic products for a period of time that is not reasonable," according to the amendment. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

TAIPEI - Taiwanese parents are now obliged by law to stop their children from spending too much time on electronic devices, the island's media has reported.

Lawmakers passed a revision to the Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act on Friday to expand existing regulations that ban children aged under 18 from smoking, drinking, chewing betel nut and using drugs to cover the use of electronic devices, Central News Agency reported.

The new regulation stipulates that juveniles "may not constantly use electronic products for a period of time that is not reasonable," according to the amendment.

Parents and legal guardians can be fined up to NT$50,000 (S$2,150) if they are found to have allowed their children to use electronic products to an extent that causes them to become ill, either physically or mentally, the amendment said.

The new regulation, however, does not define what is considered a "reasonable" amount of time.

The revision was proposed by ruling Kuomintang lawmaker Lu Shiow-yen, who said it is aimed at protecting juveniles, CNA reported.

Lu's proposal, however, sparked immediate debate on the definition of "a long period of time" during a preliminary review. The clause was shelved pending inter-party negotiations as a result.

The existing child protection act also bans children and youths from watching, reading, listening to, or using any content that depicts violence, sex or obscenity.

seokhwai@sph.com.sg