i Keyan loves surfing the internet, even though the amount of time he spends online sparks frequent arguments with his mother.
“I enjoy learning and searching cyberspace for information about the things I’mmost interested in, such as basketball, but my mom is unhappy whenever I stare at my smartphone for a few hours,” said the 12-year-old primary student from Haicheng, a city in Liaoning province in northeastern China.
Recent reports suggest that Ji is not alone, and most children his age go online regularly.
A report published by the China InternetNetwork Information Center in July found that about 25 percent of China’s 710 million internet users are age 19 or younger.
The report said the number of children age 10 or younger who regularly surf the net exceeds 20 million, and the age at which youngsters are accessing the internet is falling.
Tong Zongke, who works at a college in Beijing, said his 6-year-old son often uses his mobile phone to play games online.
“The boy has no awareness of what the internet is, but he has shown a passion for it, and has mastered many mobile skills,” said Tong, who has set up a password on his phone to ensure that his son can’t use it without his permission.
A survey conducted in June by Qihoo 360, China’s largest provider of security software, said online games were the most popular web-based activities for school students.
Twenty-five percent of the 3,000 respondents younger than 18 said they spend more than five hours a day surfing the net. In addition to playing games, they watch videos, listen to music, search for information and chat via socialnetworking applications, the survey said.
Lyu Cong, Ji’s mother, said she becomes annoyed when she sees her son sitting on the sofa endlessly playing with his smartphone.
“I don’t know what attracts him to the virtual world, but I’m worried that his studies will be affected and his eyes will be damaged if stares at the small screen for too long,” said the 35-year-old telecom company
Guo Jie, a judge and the mother of a 10-year-old boy in Sanming, Fujian province in southeastern China, understood Lyu’s dilemma. She said her son used to disrupt mealtimes if he wasn’t allowed to use a smartphone or tablet computer at the dinner table.
“Ke Ke (the boy’s family nickname) was noisy and impatient before the dishes were served or once he’d finished eating. He always disturbed my mealtime conversations with friends and family, and I had to find a way to keep him quiet so I allowed him to watch online cartoons next to the table while I had supper with friends,” the 37-year-old said.
However, when Ke Ke’s behavior failed to improve, Guo realized that she was making the problem worse, and she was also troubled by