China / Society

Pushy parents provoke child-vote backlash

By Tang Yue (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-13 08:31

Adverse affects?

Although the competitions may appear to be harmless fun, some education professionals are concerned that they could have an adverse effect on children.

Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, voiced concerns about the long-term impact.

"It actually sends a message to children that what really counts is not who you are or how hard you work, but how many social-networking resources your parents have," he said.

Moreover, helping children to win titles they don't really deserve is also likely to give them an unhealthy self-image: "Placing an artificial halo around a child's head will put too much pressure on him or her, and could prevent a child from discovering their own self and fully realizing their potential."

Safety concerns

Similar concerns were expressed in March, during this year's meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body.

Tang Sulan, a member of the CPPCC's National Committee, proposed a ban on online competitions featuring minors to prevent future psychological issues.

She was also concerned that public disclosure of a child's personal information and publication of photos poses a potential risk to the child's safety.

Li Hongyan, the mother of an 11-year-old girl and an 18-month-old boy in Beijing, said she has never canvassed on behalf of her children.

Although on the surface the children are competing among themselves via their parents' social networks, the competitions are also about parents seeking a "sense of victory" for themselves, she said.

"It feels as though parents are using their babies as tools to win glory for themselves, rather than truly respecting their kids' dignity and nature."

However, despite her antipathy to the contests, she has twice voted for the babies of close friends because "it would be embarrassing to say no".

The frustration and annoyance generated by the constant stream of requests have led some people to post jokes online mocking the practice.

One of the best-known goes like this:

"Please vote for my baby. No 157."

"OK. I've voted. No 175."

"No, it's No 157."

"I voted for 175 on purpose because No 157 is not cute at all."

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