Government-funded research has found that few parents of three-year-old toddlers in Taiwan have more than 30 children's books at home and even fewer read regularly to their children.
The study found that the number of children's books in the home is directly linked to overall child development, especially cognitive and language development, said Chang Chien-ju a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU).
Chang heads the study titled "Kids in Taiwan: National Longitudinal Study of Child Development and Care (KIT)," which seeks to develop a databank for longitudinal studies in child development in the country.
On Wednesday, Chang's team published the results of its first questionnaire which was launched in March 2016 and involved the parents of 2,164 three-year-old children born between April 2013 and March 2014.
The results show that only 40 percent of families reported having more than 30 children's books at home, "relatively low" when compared to 70 percent in Australia (based on a sample of children aged from 2-6 years old).
Furthermore, only about 30 percent of parents read to their children more than four times a week, and about one third reported that they never or rarely read to their children, according to Chang.
Compared to Australia, where data indicates half of parents read to their children 6-7 times a week, parents in Taiwan read far less frequently to their children, Chang said at a press conference.
In terms of the use of electronic devices, a rising global phenomenon, the survey found that the time children in Taiwan spend on screens (including TVs, computers, electronic notepads, mobile phones etc.) is not noticeably different to that in other countries.
The average screen time was 2.3 hours per day for children nationwide, while in Shanghai, Melbourne and the United States it was 2.8, 2.1, and 2.65 hours, respectively, the survey showed.
The study also found that prolonged use of electronic devices has a negative impact on children's overall development, consistent with the suggestion from the American Academy of Pediatrics that children aged 2-5 should not use digital media for longer than one hour every day.
It is important that parents monitor and guide their children's media use, suggested Chang's team in a statement on the KIT program released Wednesday.
The national research project was launched by the NTNU Department of Human Development and Family Studies in conjunction with the Education Research Evaluation Center at the university in August 2014, with full financial support from the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The KIT project is one of the first research projects aimed at early childhood developmental trajectories in the region, according to the ministry.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel