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Children addicted to 'electronic babysitter'

(Shanghai Daily)

09:58, April 16, 2013

For many parents, the iPad "fairy babysitter" was once a godsend, but now it's a curse that ensnares their children and won't let go. Wang Jie talks to parents and experts.

Chinese parents and educators are alarmed by Internet addiction with teens and older youth and now very young children are hooked on iPads, smartphones and other entertaining tablets.

For Han Lei, a mother of a five-year-old boy, Steve Jobs is no longer a hero and his Apple's iPad is no longer the beloved "fairy baby-sitter."

"Like many other parents, at first I was amazed by the fancy iPad functions and bought one loaded with interesting games for my boy," says Han, a 35-year-old consultant at a local advertising company. "My workload is heavy, leaving me little time for my son, so I had hoped he could have an "electronic companion," she tells Shanghai Daily.

Han says her son, Song Junhe, used to beg her to repeat his favorite bedtime stories again and again, every night. "I was exhausted," she says, "but the iPad rescued me."

She was filled with praise for inventors of gadgets that songs, told stories and played games with her child.

Han is one of many parents who outsource some baby-sitting to an electronic gadget. The boy and his iPad were inseparable. After four months, his mother decided there was something very wrong.

"He spends more time playing on it and doesn't seem to care whether I'm around. It's terrible that the iPad is indispensable to his little world, but his mother is expendable," Han says.

She has spoken with other parents who have similar problems of iPad obsession with their children.

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