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Kids 'using gadgets at earlier age being exposed to risks': Study

Few parents understand fully the ill effects or offer guidance: Study

Published on Jun 5, 2013 7:41 AM
Ms Diane Wee used to let her daughter Sarah (above) use her iPad, but stopped when she started throwing tantrums. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Children using electronic gadgets like smartphones at a younger age are increasingly exposed to certain social and health risks that come with it.

Parents, however, do not fully understand the negative effects of using such devices. Many also do not teach their children how to use them properly.

These preliminary findings are part of a new study led by Dr Nirmala Karuppiah from the National Institute of Education's (NIE) early childhood and special education academic group.

The study is believed to be the first that looks at how pre-schoolers in Singapore use gadgets such as computers, tablets and smartphones. Current research in this area deals mostly with primary school children and youth, said Dr Karuppiah.

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Background story

Many using devices before the age of 3


  • 65 per cent started playing with electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets before they turned three.
  • 95 per cent used devices for video and simulation games, and half of them used them to play educational games such as spelling quizzes. Other uses include surfing the Internet and social networking.


  • 30 per cent had rules on how much "computer time" their children could have. The remaining 70 per cent gave their children free rein to use devices of any kind.
  • 85 per cent felt their children would benefit from using such gadgets, as they saw them becoming more IT-savvy.