By Lilian Feng & Edward Nawotka
Social networking has proved immensely popular in China. And, as in much of the world, it is the young and Web savvy who are driving the trend.
The most popular SNS service provider in China so far, Kaixin, boasts over 20 million users since its launch at the end of 2007. Users are especially attracted to mini-games, such as those depicting gardening, parking cars, and maintaining pets. These little Kaixin games create a virtual Western middle-class life that many in China dream of attaining.
The games eat up an impressive amount of time from people’s work and sleep, so much so that traditional media outlets warn about the “dangers of SNS” and describe a “loser culture” of SNS addicts.
Of course, the traditional media is probably just jealous.
One reason for the popularity of SNS is China’s one-child policy, which has produced a society of solitary children, often with two working parents. After school, children are most often looked after by their grandparents. In China, a huge emphasis is placed on education and children are expected to study during their free time (after school sports are not a part of Chinese culture), so when the children get home, they dutifully sit down at their computers.
The children appear to be studying — which fools their grandparents — but they are really sending messages, Web surfing, playing games, etc…