According to a survey conducted by the Young Pioneers of China, more than 70% of minors in China first access the Internet at or before that age of 10. At the same time, 39.8% of parents surveyed believe that the Internet is more harmful than useful for their children. Parents biggest concerns, as quoted by China Daily, are that the Internet will distract their kids from studies, expose them to unhealthy information and connect them with bad people. Well…these parents are rightful in raising such concerns.
Recently, local police at Wusheng County, Sichuan province got a tricky case. A 11-year-old boy did nude video chat with a 10-year-old girl, snapped nude photos of her, blackmailed her, and when failed, posted her nude photos online.
On July, 23, Yi Yi, a 10-year-old third grader, was surfing the Internet at home as usual. She logged on to the QQ group of her class (QQ is the most popular IM tool in China) and found Duo Dou was also available online, who, at the time, was under the nick name of “Michelangelo”. Dou Dou joined that particular QQ group through one of Yi Yi’s classmates.
Apparently, Dou Dou was very good at chatting up girls. The next day on July, 24, the two met online again and this time, Dou Dou successfully persuaded Yi Yi to do nude video chat with him. Towards the end of the video chat, Dou Dou demanded Yi Yi to charge 100 Q coins to his account, or he would post her nude photos on her class’ QQ group and on his Weibo account.
For those of you who are not familiar with Q coins. The Q coin is a virtual currency used by QQ users to purchase QQ related items for avatars or blogs, such as clothes and accessories for avatars or decorations for blogs. Q coins can be purchased at one coin for one yuan (RMB) and used in various online stores for real merchandise. So the 100 Q coins Dou Dou asked for would cost Yi Yi 100 RMB in real life, not a small amount for a 10-year-old.
For whatever reason, Yi Yi declined Dou Dou’s request. But on the evening of the same day when Yi Yi logged on to the QQ group of her class again, she saw 3 nude photos of herself posted. She then opened Dou Dou’s Weibo page, there was another one.
Horrified, Yi Yi called her mom and together, they reported the case to local police. Local police closed the QQ group immediately to prevent further damage and tracked down Dou Dou’s IP to his home in the Southern part of the county. They took Dou Duo’s computer, which had 3 nude photos of Yi Yi on desktop. At the police station, Dou Dou confessed all his “crimes”, including taking and uploading Yi Yi’s nude photos after failed attempts of blackmailing. But since Dou Dou was too young to receive any punishment, the only thing local police can do is to ask his parents to better discipline him in the future.
This story is wrong on so many level, but it’s also a sad story. According an article by Sohu, both kids are China’s so-called left-behind children, meaning that they are most likely to live in rural or less developed areas of China and that they grow up without one or both of their parents who work in far-away big cities as migrant workers. According to a Xinhua report on left-behind kids, roughly 58 million children in China were left behind in rural areas by migrant-worker parents in 2010 nationwide. That works out to about one in every four children in rural regions. About 79.7% of left-behind children are cared for by their grandparents, and 13% were left to their relatives or friends, while the remaining 7.3% live by themselves.
If lack of proper care is one reason behind such a story, the easy access to sexually charged content on the Chinese internet is another. With such a huge minor online population and as a country famous for its internet censorship, one’d think that internet parental control is a common practice in Chinese families. Quite on the contrary, parental control is a seldom-heard concept in China. What’s worse, nowhere like the Chinese Internet is the philosophy of “Sex sells” held more dearly. And it’s not about porn sites but about the quasi-porn content on pretty much every site, especially if it’s gaming related.
A sample of the gaming pages from some popular news portals
From QQ.com, gaming page
From Netease, gaming page
Apparently, Chinese government’s ban on game marketing using vulgar photos has been ineffective. According the same report by the Young Pioneers of China, more than half of all minors ages 13-18 are learning about sex through sex in video games and video game related materials 38.7 % say that they have come into contact with sexual material through game advertisements and promotional material.