There are 195 countries within the world and out of that total one county has more internet users than any other country. Six hundred and eighty-eight million people in China use the internet daily making China the most demanding country of internet usage. The internet is in such high demand that people rely it as their number one resource for information, surpassing both television and newspapers. While there are many benefits to this high degree of internet usage there are also several serious drawbacks.
A common type of internet use seen in China is known as “Flesh-searching”. This represents a form of cyberbullying which has led to repeated online and public humiliation, black mail and even death threats. In worst case scenarios this form of harassment has led to job lose and even suicide.
Another serious implication of this is the effect of the relationship adolescents are having with their parents. Finally, another serious implication that is seen from the internet is internet addiction.
Many questions arise regarding this behavior, including why are people using the internet to bring harm to others and what is the Chinese community doing to reduce this in their country? A ripple effect is seen expanding the effects of this behavior far beyond social media, to include the everyday lives of the Chinese people. With such high demand, it is not only affecting those on social media but also is affecting the everyday lives of people within this country. The high number of internet users in China has led to a high prevalence of cyberbullying.
In China the types of social media being used include Weibo (a Twitter like application), Baidu (a Google like application), QQ (a texting application) and Jinri Toutiao (a news application). These are the tools that are being used in “Flesh searching”. This is a form of cyberbullying which involves an attack on a person by reveling personal information and details about them. This is often times done when an individual has done something to anger the public. This leads to delivery of unwanted items to the persons home, public humiliation, threat of death, blackmail, and often job lose.
The worst consequence of this action is the affecting individual’s suicide. An example of flesh searching taking place happened when according to the BBC news “a woman who starred in an anonymous video using the high heel of her stiletto to crush a kitten’s skull. The woman, who turned out to be a nurse, was suspended from her job when her identity was revealed. She received numerous death threats and considered suicide.” (Hatton) Some think of this as a form of vigilantism where “flesh searching” is used to punish people whom are thought to committed a crime but have not been punished by the government.
Another negative effect that is brought about with such high demand in internet usage found in teenagers is the weakening in relationships with their parents. According to the Star online, 48% of those who use mobile phones have a worse relationship with their parents than those who don’t use their phones as often. With the worsening of relationships with teenage parents due to phone usage brings about issues with mental health such as generalized anxiety. According to a study in the Journal of Adolescence, found that “higher emotional investment in social media was strongly correlated with higher levels of anxiety.” (Yingzhi)
A third negative effect that is brought about with such high demand in internet usage found in teenagers is one becoming addicting to the internet. According to the Global Issues in Context, “Researchers in China may have found physical evidence that the Internet is addictive.” (Teens) The researchers did a study on the brains of those who said they were addicted to the internet and those who weren’t and found that, “in the self-reported Internet addicts’ brains there were disruptions in the connections of the nerve fibers associated with self-control and decision making.” (Teens) Those who use the internet often may be addicted to the internet for many reasons. One reason they might be addicted to the internet is because of the entertainment it brings to them, including watching those being humiliated by “flesh searching” Many think that internet addiction is just based off social media however, those who play video games are also internet addicts. According to the Global Issues in Context, “Chinese and American tech users had the most difficulty ‘unplugging,’ while Germans led in reporting they found it easy to take a break.” (Teens) This shows that the population of those who game in china have a hard time not playing and cannot stop when they need to.
Given these negative effects that the internet is giving in China, the obvious question is what is the government doing to prevent these things from happening? When it comes to the “human flesh search engine” there has yet to be a law passed against it or cyberbullying itself in general. However, there has been things done to prevent other forms of cyberbullying from affecting others. One thing that has been done is the phone service known as “China Mobile” has been told by the government to block all forms of interoperate messages, mainly those containing sexual content. If one was caught doing this, their phones would be deactivated. This is one step to help prevent cyberbullying.
Although there is no way to prevent teenagers from using the internet, there are many things people can do to help those effecting by social media. According to the author Aija Mayrock in the writing of The Survival Guide to Bullying he states that, “Parents and educators have the space and opportunity to have conversations with kids about social media, their behavior on it, and the pros and cons of a digital footprint.” (Yingzhi) Another study that was found is that according to the Star Online more than 90% of Chinese minors use the internet on their phones. However, more than 64% of primary school kids have their own cell phone. (Yingzhi) Those kids who have cell phones are even using them while doing homework, as well as in classes during the day. With these statistics it is clear that if the parents of these young teenagers and children wouldn’t give them phones until a more mature age, the negative effects of internet usage be less. Not only would it be less, but also there wouldn’t be a such high demand for internet usage. Giving their children a phone at a young age is a major factor for cyberbullying as well as increased mental health issues and poor relationships with their parents.
Another thing, parents can do to help reduce the amount of internet usage is by being a role model to their children and not being on their phones a lot. According to a study found in the South Morning China Post, “more than a third of teens will not obey parental restrictions on internet use because “parents also go online and do not set a good example.”.” If the adults would set a good example for their children, then the demand in internet usage could go down. Another way they can help reduce the use of the internet is by taking their children’s phones away while they are at school and doing homework. Doing this, will reduce the amount of time they are on them at school and they will be able to focus on their class. To help lower the high demand of internet usage, parents can also take their children’s phones away at a certain time each night. This will insure them that they are getting the right amount of sleep and it can also lower the demand on the internet.
In Conclusion, with the Six hundred and eighty-eight million users of the internet in China it is seen that the internet is important to them. With the many varieties of social media available to the Chinese population one can see that the internet is demanding. There are numerous negative effects that this is having on the country including the flesh searching, weakened relationships with one’s parents and internet addiction. It is seen that the Chinese government has not controlled flesh searching but has taken small steps to help prevent cyberbullying in general. Making the parents aware that their children are watching everything they do, including the amount of time they spend on their phones will help decrease the amount of internet being used. Finally, with the changes that parents and the government make will help not only the community but also will help decrease the amount of internet that is being used.