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Internet Worsens Chinese Youth's Language Skills

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According to the Chinese Ministry of Information Technology, China has about 400 million Internet users and about 600 million mobile phone users. "Most netizens are young people who live in cities," says Hu Zhengrong, China's foremost communications scholar.

For the post-1980 generation, the Internet and mobile phones are must-haves. Wang Xinyu, 18, studying at Beihong Senior High School in Shanghai, spends more than four hours every day on the Internet and easily half-a-day on his mobile phone. "I am addicted to them," says Wang.

Su Gaoshu, a consultant at the Maple Women's Psychological Counseling Center Beijing, says that while the Internet has definitely led to more convenience, communications online and through SMS has worsened the language skills of youth.

"Online messages and SMSes are short and simple, and this can change the structure of the Chinese character system," Su says.

Su says feeling lost without access to the Internet and mobile contact is normal. "When you have formed a habit, you will feel uncomfortable if you are forced to drop it."

Communications scholar Hu says the Internet provides a platform for young people to express their intimate thoughts. "Chinese people are introverted, and they dare not say in the real world what they have nor problems publishing online," Hu says.

(China Daily April 7, 2009)

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