A recent report by a research center on rural issues at Wuhan University shows that 90 percent of left-behind children in China’s rural areas spend a long time on smartphones every day; nearly 70 percent are hooked on short videos and 30 percent are playing online games.
In some extreme cases, a child was found playing games without sleep for five days. More than half the students in the sixth grade spent more than 10 hours on their phones during weekends. As a result, children’s physical fitness, learning abilities and interests have all declined, the report said.
Teenagers’ addiction to smartphones and the internet is not a new problem. But this time it is affecting left-behind kids, whose parents leave them behind with their grandparents when they go to the cities to work.
With more smartphones and greater internet penetration in rural areas now, it was only a matter of time before the left-behind children got hooked on to the new technology. Besides, because of the monotonous life in rural areas, the virtual world appears very attractive. Also, left-behind children lack effective supervision from their guardians. Their grandparents often have no clue what the online world is all about.
It is not easy to say whether it is right or wrong for the left-behind children to spend so much time on smartphones. At least, society should not blame the children or their families. Besides, online games and short videos are not always that bad. The problem lies in the children devoting too much time to them. The platforms and families should exercise due responsibility by regulating their use of smartphones.
The platforms must improve the system and implement features such as verification of user identity and setting a time limit on usage. The authorities need to set relevant rules. At the same time, parents should know that they are their children’s primary teachers. They should spend more time with them and avoid wasting too much time on smartphones.
Society should ponder on how to reduce people’s dependence on electronic gadgets and not let them become obsessed with the virtual world.