Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chinese Children Get Married at an Early Age

Work has been very busy lately. The toy industry never seems to stop pushing and I’ve been cought in the middle of it.

Because of the job, I’ve been neglecting to read all of the Google Alerts on China and Shenzhen that I receive daily. Today while reading articles from the last few days I came across an interesting story from the Shenzhen Daily (web edition) entitled Kids’ Virtual Marriages Causes Concern.

Interesting. That title itself just drew me in.

It turns out that elementary school kids in Shenzhen have found a new hobby. Instead of collecting Pogs, like I did, these kids are getting married…online.

A survey by the newspaper of 49 pupils at a primary school in Luohu District showed that 24 percent of them had virtual "marriages", and 14 percent of them had even "married" twice.

Not only did the children get married (kinda like Vegas, but better, and 24 hours)…but they also

…"giving birth" to virtual babies online…

While some people questioned the game and its possible influence on the kids’ future love life…

Parents and educators worry that the virtual marriages would lead the kids into misunderstanding the reality of marriage.

…for teenagers, it's much easier to blur the line between real and virtual marriages. A junior high student identified as Guo Guo said many of her classmates had acted as if they were really in love with their virtual spouses. "In the game, the virtual husbands and wives claim to love each other so much. How can you say the virtual love will not influence your real emotions?" argued Guo Guo.

…others asked why marriages are put into online games in the first place…

"I don't understand why game developers put marriages into the games. With children marrying and divorcing so easily online, they may become irresponsible when they do marry in reality," [a mother] said, adding that children may get upset if their future spouses are not as prefect virtual spouses.

There are many other interesting tidbits in the article. You have to read it for yourself!!

My biggest concern regarding this game is that some might get the notion that getting married or into serious relationships will increase your points in life…

About 37 percent of the kids polled by the Shenzhen Evening News said they had virtual marriages to "increase their credits in the game," and 28 percent of them said they did it for fun.

…and we all know that’s not true.

I wonder how long it will be that a similar game pops up in the US, becomes popular, gets embraced and chastised by the religious right, then reported on CNN. Any bets?


1 comment:

Rene Patnode said...

Unrelated to the topic, but I wanted to get back to you on your comment on my blog. (Delayed response caused by the GFWoC.)

Harbin's all right. I'm not a huge fan, but I don't have a huge basis for comparison. Based on my travels, I'd say I prefer Southern China.

I'm leaving in July to go back to school in the states. If you happen to visit before then, let me know.