Taiwan Nannies Rule: Parents Can't Decide How Much Time Their Kids Spend With Electronics

from the mama-government dept

The nanny-state arms race marches on, apparently. Whereas the previous intersection of overbearing government and technology has resulted in politicians attempting to ban the use of headphones while walking across the street, governments introducing all manner of silly policies in the name of "protecting the children", and even municipalities attempting to run psy-ops on citizens to keep them from smoking, Taiwan appears to be taking an even more direct approach with plans to fine the parents of children the government has deemed spend too much time with electronics.

Under rules passed last Friday by Taiwanese politicians, children under the age of two should be completely banned from using electronic devices, Xinhua, China's official news agency reported. Meanwhile under-18s should not be allowed to "constantly use electronic products for a period of time that is not reasonable". It means electronic products are now listed alongside cigarettes and alcohol as potentially dangerous vices.
And you can see their point, assuming you're a crazy person. Because electronics are tools primarily of communication and productivity, even if they're also used for entertainment, and government intrusion on young people's ability to communicate, learn, and be entertained is so far removed from alcohol and tobacco that one wonders how the argument was made with a straight face to begin with. The prospective "too much time" part of this legal equation has yet to be ironed out, but the brainchild for the law is, shall we say, more than slightly aggressive on the topic.
The new regulation is the brainchild of Lu Shiow-yen, a Taiwanese member of parliament who said his intention was to protect young people by stopping them using electronic devices for more than 30 minutes at a time. Parents who break the rules can be hit with fines of up to about £1,000 although it remains unclear how authorities will determine what amount of time is unreasonable.
There's a million reasons why this is stupid, but I'll boil it down to one specific reason: baseball. Baseball is huge in Taiwan. Baseball is enjoyed primarily on television and streaming electronic devices. And baseball, for all its wonderful aspects, takes roughly as much time as it takes for a mountain to form in the Nebraska prairie. Thirty-minute stretches of time as a limit effectively outlaws youngsters watching baseball. Put in that context, and really any other context, these sorts of artificial limitations on the electronics that dominate our lives (in a good way) are ludicrous.

Expect either the backlash here to be huge, or the law to go largely ignored. Either way, this is a political non-starter.

Filed Under: children, devices, electronics, kids, nanny state, parents, screen time, taiwan


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Feb 2015 @ 5:46am

    'Forget engineers, what we need are more janitors'

    A not so minor side-affect of this would be people much less tech savvy than those in other countries, leaving them at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to any job involving computers or other electronics.

    Now, they could learn those skills in school later on in life, but having a childhood basically bereft of interaction with computers and other electronics will make the learning curve more of a learning cliff, and they'll be forced to spend good amounts of time just catching up to those in other countries regarding the subject before they can even begin to learn more advanced applications and uses of technology.

    Such strict limits would also hamstring them in another way as well. People solve problems, and come up with ideas, using what they are familiar with. To someone familiar with computers, it would be second nature to use them to solve a problem, or come up with an idea involving them.

    On the other hand, to someone with only a passing familiarity with regards to computers and similar tech, they are much less likely to even consider the place of computers with regards to solving problems, or think up new uses or advancements of technology involving them.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: I Invented Email
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.