[photopress:chinaweb203.jpg,full,alignright]The word ‘netizen’ is widely used in reports on China to describe an Internet user. It is not widely used elsewhere. China’s netizens under the age of 18 — and that is anyone using the Internet on a sort of regular basis even if it is only through an Internet cafe — now total 18.3 million which is about 14.9 percent of all users.
An official with the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League said, ‘The Internet has become an important facility in Chinese youth’s daily life. Through the Internet, the young people can get information for study, work and entertainment.’
He said China’s Internet industry is on the upswing and minor netizens are both beneficiaries and a driving force of the industry’s development. ‘We can cultivate more talents and experts from them through proper guidance,’ he said.
That is the plus side. There is, of course, a negative side. The official also pointed out several problems that need to be resolved concerning the influence of the Internet’s rapid development on minors.
He said, ‘The most typical problem is the network addiction.’
About 13.2 percent Chinese netizens are network addicts, according to a report released in November 2005 by China Youth Association For Network Development. This is a very iffy number. The definition of the word ‘addict’ is not made clear.
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