SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English

Xia Zhihai“Relationship between Children and Smartphone, and adults’ roles for it”

Recent incidents by children are deeply related with smartphones in the possession of those children. In the latter part of the last summer holidays, a junior high-school student was arrested in Ehime Prefecture. He inflicted repeated violence on his classmate and displayed a picture of his violence using LINE. Similar incidents are being reported every day. But, it seems that no solution can be found to stop this practice. It may be because we cannot relate how present-day adults may have grown up owning smartphones, or had friends with smartphones. Internet surroundings for children, which are changing rapidly, cause bullying on the internet and result in suffering or commission of crimes.


I think such bullying, etc. are most important issues in the field of education.  But, teachers cannot interfere in communities of LINE of children in the internet even if they are alert in schools. Or, even if parents can filter use of smartphones by their children, they cannot prevent uploading of pictures or movies. Once pictures or movies are uploaded, nobody (school, parents or the police) can delete these. I do not know how education can cope with such a situation.


In my home town in China, the situation is the same. Relations between children and smartphones are social problems.  There are plenty of young internet users who feel uneasy if they are not always connected with friends on “WeChat” (微信) which is a similar application with LINE.  Adults also use “WeChat” conveniently. We can use neither “Facebook” nor “Twitter” in China.  But, we have many similar applications on which we can exchange our opinions.  These are “Weibo”(微博) which is a mini-blog like twitter, “WeChat” mentioned above, and “QQ” Chine which can be said to have created an internet dependence in a big country. In the relation between children and smartphones, though there is no governmental law in China, such as the regulation in Japan, where children are required to leave their smartphones with their teachers during school hours. Enforcement of such regulations depends on the abilities of the particular education system or schools.


Only LINE is prominent in Japan, as people being left out of friends. But, new applications similar to LINE are being developed one after another as catch-up or overtake efforts. It is said to be fashionable among students to upload to internet materials which they took by smartphones, after being edited using available applications. The file size of of moving pictures is said to be too heavy to send. This problem, however, was solved by the speed of internet and increased use of Wi-Fi access.


The other day, I had a chance to talk with people who belong to a youth development association. According to them, on using smartphone, the problem is not only LINE but also “on-line-games” which are provided together with TV commercials, using entertainers as presenters. It seems to be difficult for the parents to drag their children away from the games partly because parents are also addicted. There is  another trouble.  Recently, there are a lot of problems associated with applications which are specialized to sell unwanted articles and are not regulated in their use by young people who are under 18 years old. Under the present situation, children under 18 can sell unwanted articles, using available applications, can get money and buy other prohibited materials. Under such circumstances, what adults can do is to just follow the situation that new applications, which are convenient and enjoyable for the young, are developed one after another.  It may be a reality that we, adults, cannot grasp how such applications affect children adversely..


We cannot leave as it is the relations between children and the internet. First of all, parents have to know exactly the existing conditions.  And, it will ideal that parents establish some moral standards and rules to guide their children to the proper use of smartphones in the house.


It is said that schools are asking parents to think about their own personal relations with smartphones, in other words, how adults use smartphones by themselves. We are ashamed to hear of parents’ improper use of smartphones. . We know of the time when there is nosmartphone.  But, children do not know such time. This is the problem.  Unintentional exchange on the internet maybe used as dangerous weapons (for example, blackmail) or to be involved in unwanted incidents. We have to guide our children to understand such situations and be able to protect themselves.


(Full-time Lecturer, Maebashi Kyouai Gakuen University)


Translated by Kazuo Kawamura

English checked by Mac Maquito


SGRA Kawaraban 470 in Japanese (original)