Psychiatrist warns of Internet addiction impact on young children

Taipei, Oct. 5 (CNA) The rise of smartphones and high-speed Internet connections has put young children more at risk of Internet addiction and its possible consequences on their mental and physical development, a psychiatrist warned Saturday. Research has shown that getting lost in the virtual world actually changes the way young brains work, creating anxiety and depression and increasing impulsiveness, according to Chang Li-ren, an attending psychiatrist at National Taiwan University Hospital's Yunlin branch. Speaking at the launch of a series of books on social issues and psychiatric diseases, including his own, Chang said that these problems can undermine a child's ability to cope with a sense of meaninglessness later in life. He recommended that parents keep children under age three away from smartphones and other computing devices, while children under six should be limited to 30 minutes a day, elementary schoolers to one hour a day, and junior and senior high schoolers to two hours a day. He reminded parents to remain level-headed when children inevitably argue about their limited play time, saying that they too need to understand the appeal of the Internet and video games in order to ween children off them and onto more productive interests. (By Lung Rui-yun and Kay Liu)