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Children are becoming increasingly reliant on digital devices

By ZOU SHUO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-04-13 08:57
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Smartphones are almost ubiquitous among primary and middle school students, who use them mainly to do homework and surf social media platforms, according to a 2019 survey.

More than 93 percent of parents had given smartphones to their primary and middle school children for daily use, according to the survey conducted by China Youth Daily.

Middle school students had the highest rate of phone ownership at 97.1 percent, while primary school students from the first to third grades reported the lowest rate at 87.5 percent, the survey said.

The survey was based on questionnaires sent to 1,939 parents of primary school and middle school students.

Almost 60 percent of respondents said their children used smartphones to do homework, while 57 percent said they used them to access social media.

Contact with teachers came in at 48 percent and the same proportion used the device to play online games, while 47 percent watched videos and listened to music, the survey said.

More than 30 percent of parents said they failed to guide their children on the rational use of the devices and 39 percent said children's smartphone use was contrary to their original intentions.

Last year, a report released by the Chinese Communist Youth League Central Committee and the China Internet Network Information Center found that 175 million minors regularly used the internet.

It noted that 93.9 percent went online via mobile phones, while 56.7 percent also used TV sets. Desktop computers came in at 45 percent, with laptops at 31.5 percent and tablets at 28.9 percent.

The report, based on a survey of 34,661 primary and secondary school students, found that 33 percent of primary school students had accessed the internet before school age and 65.6 percent of young internet users had taught themselves the requisite skills.

Sun Hongyan, from the China Youth and Children Research Center, said that as "digital natives", today's children are inseparable from smartphones and the internet, leading to overdependence on digital devices.

Online games and novels have become important social topics with young students and they do not want to be left out among their peers, Sun said.

The reason some parents fail to regulate their child's smartphone use is that they also use the devices too much, she added.

Sun suggested that parents should set an example by not becoming addicted to their phones.

They should also involve their children when setting rules for phone use and teach them how to identify healthy content, she added.


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