New trend

More se­niors turn­ing to in­ter­net for shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou zheng­caix­iong @chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chen Jian­juan, 78, usu­ally turns on her com­puter to surf the in­ter­net at about 9 pm be­fore she goes to bed.

In ad­di­tion to in­for­ma­tion and en­ter­tain­ment, she re­ally wants to know what her 10-year-old grand­son has done dur­ing the day.

Chen, who is now liv­ing in Huizhou, about 120 kilo­me­ters from Guangzhou, Guang­dong province, learned how to surf the in­ter­net when her son re­turned home to spend Spring Fes­ti­val with her in Jan­uary.

“It was my grand­son who taught me to surf the in­ter­net,” said Chen, a re­tired civil ser­vant.

“Ev­ery day, my grand­son, who at­tends school in Guangzhou, sends me some pho­tos and mes­sages telling me what he had done that day, and I can’t fall asleep un­less I’ve read his mes­sages,” Chen said.

She said she will call him on WeChat if he doesn’t con­tact her.

Else­where, Shen San­shan, a re­tired pro­fes­sor in Guangzhou, who is in his 60s, said he has gone on­line for shop­ping for more than two years.

“I mainly buy books on­line,” Shen said. “On­line shop­ping is con­ve­nient, and buy­ers are usu­ally of­fered some dis­counts. ... I or­dered to­day, and the books will be de­liv­ered to my home to­mor­row.”

Chen and Shen are just two of the grow­ing num­ber of se­niors across the coun­try who use the in­ter­net reg­u­larly.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Can­ton Pub­lic Opin­ion Re­search Cen­ter, more than 32 per­cent of re­tirees na­tion­wide fre­quently go on­line— and the trend is up­ward.

Ac­quir­ing knowl­edge and in­for­ma­tion, en­ter­tain­ment and on­line shop­ping were the top three rea­sons Chi­nese re­tirees gave for their in­ter­net ac­tiv­i­ties. The cen­ter in­ter­viewed around 3,000 res­i­dents na­tion­wide in re­cent months, in­clud­ing more than 500 peo­ple above 60 years old.

Xia Xueluan, a pro­fes­sor of so­cial sciences at Pek­ing Univer­sity, said surf­ing the in­ter­net not only helps se­niors im­prove the qual­ity of their lives but also helps fur­ther ex­pand do­mes­tic con­sump­tion as they shop on­line.

He urged in­ter­net and IT com­pa­nies to de­velop more tech­nolo­gies and prod­ucts that will help se­niors surf the in­ter­net even more eas­ily.

Chen Ming, a pro­fes­sor of de­mog­ra­phy at Xi­a­men Univer­sity, said open­ing the way for more re­tirees to ac­cess the in­ter­net can help the se­niors main­tain con­tact with so­ci­ety, which is good for their health.

“Surf­ing the in­ter­net is more pos­i­tive than neg­a­tive for re­tirees,” Chen said. “We might worry that our kids’ stud­ies might be af­fected if they be­come ad­dicted to surf­ing the in­ter­net or to on­line games, but we do not have to worry about that with se­nior res­i­dents, who have a lot of time to spend.”

Com­pared with chil­dren, se­niors have more abil­ity to con­trol how much time they spend on­line, he added.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Civil Af­fairs, the num­ber of peo­ple over 60 years old will reach 243 mil­lion by 2020 and is ex­pected to sur­pass 300 mil­lion in 2025.

SI WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A 114-year-old woman surfs the in­ter­net us­ing her cell­phone in Lianyun­gang, Jiangsu province, last year.

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