Scholar Alice Lei Si Man Monday presented the findings of a survey on Macau’s family environment and early childhood development, showing that infants who spend less time on e-gadgets tend to have better development in language, social communication, gross motor and fine motor skills, and cognition.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Lei made the remarks during a press conference at the headquarters of the Women’s General Association of Macau.
Commissioned by the association’s Day Care Centre and Day Care Centre Parents Association, Lei, an assistant professor at the University of Macau’s (UM) Faculty of Education, conducted the large-scale survey on Macau’s family environment and early childhood development.
The survey found that most local children have been exposed to screen devices at an early age. More than 70 percent of local children were given the devices before reaching 18 months while 98.7 percent started using them before the age of three.
According to the survey, more than 40 percent of the children in families questioned by the survey use e-gadgets over an hour a day while about 90 percent of parents limit the time their children spend on e-gadgets.
Referring to a study conducted by US National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NAPSE), Lei said that children up to the age of three should spend less than 30 minutes using e-gadgets per day and those from three to six less than 60 minutes.
According to the findings of Lei’s survey, in children using e-gadgets there may be an increase in the occurrence of language developmental delay.
Lei noted that the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that children younger than 18 months should not use any of these devices. Instead, she suggested parents spend more time reading books with their children.