Observations on Chinese student life 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — University life for students in China mixes the regimentation of a secondary boarding school with the freedom of young adulthood. After five months here, I still find the combination baffling. In a similar vein, I have learned that Chinese parents and secondary schools are generally far less liberal about their children’s social connections, especially dating, than most Western parents. This parental control can extend into the child’s university years, as well, to an extent that would drive most Western students batty. Whether the added supervision of teenagers and young adults is a good thing, I cannot and should not say. It’s not my culture, after all. On one level, I can understand the motivation for such tight control of youngsters. A child here is a precious investment in a family’s future, and because of national birth-control laws, an extremely limited resource. Most Chinese families can legally have only one child; if they live in a rural area, they can legally have two. There can be dire consequences for couples who have a little oopsie, and produce an additional child above the legal limit. Those consequences include hefty fines, additional taxes and job demotions or barriers. Chinese culture ...

Researchers: kids use the Internet; adults should get with program

JISHOU, HUNAN — Social scientists seem to have a knack for spending huge amounts of time and effort to state the obvious. The most recent example is from a study funded by the MacArthur Foundation: teens spend a lot of time online and on their cell phones communicating with others, and it’s good for them! Dudes, like I didn’t already know. Seriously, I respect the John D. and Catherine T. MacArtur Foundation. It funds a whole slew of wonderful pursuits, like National Public Radio, a really nice oceanside nature reserve in Florida, and many others. Spending three years to conclude what seems to be patently obvious may seem to be time and effort misplaced, but the conclusions of the report should give us educators something to think about. Led by Mizuko Ito of the University of California-Irvine, a team of researchers interviewed 800 teens and young adults and spent more than 5,000 hours online to investigate youth media use. They refute the oft-cited scourge of Internet predators out to abscond with our children’s virtue. In fact, the overwhelming majority of young people use electronic media to talk with one another, or with people they know. Despite adult fears that all ...
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