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Young internet users encouraged to think twice

By Zhang Zhihao | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-11-18 19:22

A positive and healthy online culture is key to productivity and transforming young internet natives into mature online citizens, experts have told the third World Internet Conference on Friday.

China has 710 million internet users, of which 75 percent fall between the ages of 10 and 39 years old.

Cyberspace Administration of China vice minister Ren Xianliang said 80 percent of employees in China's internet business firms are young adults.

"The booming scale of the internet means harmful information such as online pornography, intimidation and fraud are more common than ever," Ren said. "Chinese youth are under constant threat of these issues."

With the increase of social media and user-generated content, some individuals and companies are taking advantage of China's young internet demographic.

Tian Ning, founder of Panshi Company, an online advertising firm, estimated the internet celebrity economy has contributed more than 300 billion yuan ($43.5 billion) to China's e-commerce last year. Female web celebrities also crowded live streams and top vendors in cosmetics and fashion clothing on Taobao - China's leading online retail platform.

"Competition on the internet can become so cut throat that some will do anything, including illegal activities, to pander to their customers," Tian said. "This goes against the principle of success through knowledge and innovation."

The head of the Chinese Culture Institute of Internet Communication, Jin Haifeng, said a healthy online atmosphere was good for productivity and creativity.

"The internet culture is a reflection of human nature," he said.

He added that the obscene material on the internet is part of a natural progress of the internet user base growing up.

"All online issues are related to reality," Jin said. "Young adults craving sensational satisfaction leads to opportunists filling the internet with titillating material, but a business built on unhealthy obsession is ultimately unsustainable."

Jin believed that with proper guidance, young people can learn to lead a productive and healthy online life, and it can start with cleaning online language.

"Words are the main method of communication online. In a way, you are what you say," he said.

"Young netizens should put more thought into their words, be aware of the occasion and take responsibility for what they have said."

The internet community should also celebrate positive web celebrities like renown scholars, model workers or ordinary people with positive energy. The government can also implement policies to facilitate civilized online interactions, Jin added. "If people can learn to be Junzi (a man with great morals) in real life, then the internet will be a better place too."

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