This week, the DigiKids have conducted a survey about the young Chinese’s opinions on the usage of social media in China. We have interviewed 6 Chinese (2 are still in China, and 4 are studying in foreign countries like the United States of America, Japan, France and Great Britain). Are you curious to know their opinions? Here is what we have found!
1. Why do you use a social media in China? What appeals to you? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the social media in China?
Everyone has his or her own reason to open an account on social media. Some want to follow the latest news of their favorite stars, some want to keep in touch with their friends, some want to know the latest news as early as they can and others like to post online their everyday emotion to share with their friends.
For those who like using social media, it is the convenience it brings that they prefer. In China, you can connect to other social networks with the same account that you use on other platforms, especially on Weibo (a combination of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). The other reasons are as following:
- There are more and more official accounts opened on Weibo. The government tries to strengthen the relationship between the government and the citizens through this channel. It is not only a way to speak on the internet, but also an opportunity to know what the people want to express. At the same time, people who manage these accounts try to use a more humorous way to chat with people online. This behavior totally changes the serious impression that the government officials have in people’s mind.
- Except for commenting on the government issues, the social media is also a new way for them to comment on current news and have a chance to talk with experts in this field at the same time. This is what they can never experience in real daily life.
- Weibo is not only a place for people to express their opinions, but also a place to call on people to participate in real life. For example, people would want to help spread the news to find a lost child, or call for people to accompany the lonely old people who can’t take good care of themselves.
- It is also a good platform for doing business online. Nowadays, there are more and more companies or merchants who choose to promote their business online with the help of social media. By this way, not only they can increase their brand awareness among customers, but also start to transform their “fan” customers into loyal consumers.
However, the social media is not 100% perfect. There are still some flaws. As social media promotion is quite popular, sometimes we can’t deny that there are too many advertisements on it, which is quite annoying. At the same time, some people are using these ads to cheat on innocent social media users. They publish fraudulent ads that delude social media users into paying money to them for nothing. But usually we can’t catch those people because their online information are not true. Another thing that people don’t like about the social media is that it has changed their lives, in a negative way. Nowadays, as smart phone is the regular “equipment” for everyone, we hold it everywhere we go and whatever we do, even when eating. And we call people like this “the phubber”. Another strange phenomenon caused by this “symptom” is that young Chinese tend to be more active in front of their mobile phones than in front of their friends. For those who do care about communication between friends, this bad habit makes them feeling really uncomfortable. Last thing they don’t like about social media in China is that they think what we have right now are the duplications of what’s already existed abroad. It lacks the creativity and the originality in Chinese social media.
2. For those who study abroad, does the social media in the country where you live right now give you a wider horizon and a global vision compared with the social media in China?
To this question, they all said “yes”. They agree that using the social media like Facebook or Instagram helps them to have a global vision. Because the users of Facebook and Instagram are worldwide, it’s easier to communicate with people from different part of the world and know the current news from different kinds of views, not only from the official government. It will be more truthful.
3. What’s your opinion about not having access to Facebook, Twitter or other social networks in China?
To this question, the interviewees agree that there are advantages and disadvantages.
For advantages, they think that right now in China, there is no movie or video classification system. The adolescents can get massive information online. The violent or inappropriate content of some videos shared online is not good for their health, mentally. In China, for the post on social media, there are people who always monitor it and they have the right to delete what people has posted online due to some “policies” we are not familiar with. However it is impossible to monitor and delete what people say on Facebook, but for Chinese social media, it’s easier to manage. To some degree, it protects the adolescents. On the other side, they think although they can’t use these foreign social media in China, the Chinese operators duplicated them and from time to time, they have created new services based on the characteristics of Chinese users, which satisfies most of the users.
But on the other hand, they think this behavior is like the modern “isolationism” in the digital age. From the Qing Dynasty, China had launched a policy to cut off a huge percent of communication with the foreign countries in trading and also in culture exchange. The interviewees made this metaphor to show their dissatisfaction about the situation right now. This policy stands in the way to prevent people to know about the world but can’t stop them because they have already found a way to cross the “Great Wall” the government has built in the virtual world. What they want to express is that too many limits on the social media would only make Chinese people like a frog in the well who has little experience and a narrow world view.
As a conclusion, the young Chinese all hope that this restriction on social media won’t exist long in the future. They are aware of the advantages and disadvantages of using the social media abroad. But they think only by opening up to the whole world they can we show that China is a real Giant and it is also a great opportunity for the foreigners to know about them.
Etienne Becquet – Nadia Benaouda – YuWei Dun – Julia Saumande