From China they assure that video games lead to marriage and anime to loneliness — Kudasai

The portal SupChina published an article describing research by a sociology professor on China’s steady annual decline in births, proposing a link between hobbies and why young people lose interest in starting a family. According to her study, “those who play competitive video games tend to choose marriage, while those who watch anime tend to be single“.

«China is aging, there are not enough babies to ensure continued economic growth, young people do not want to start families or have more than one baby because it is too expensive, and most of them grew up as only children due to government policies. Faced with this demographic crisis, Beijing has made it clear that it wants couples to have more children. But what you’re doing isn’t working. Data released by the National Statistical Office shows that the country’s birthrate plummeted for the fifth consecutive year to hit a new record low in 2021, and surveys regularly reveal that a growing number of young people, especially urban and professional women, rule out the marriage».

«Why can’t Beijing persuade people to have more babies? Lǐ Tíng 李婷, a sociology professor at China’s Renmin University, who heads the school’s Gender and Family Research Center, has some theories. In a new study (in Chinese) published this month, Li suggests that the use of certain Chinese social media sites, such as Weibo and Douban, negatively affects the way female college students think about marriage and having children. Her proposal, however, was poorly received by netizens, who criticized the study for using social media as a scapegoat, while glossing over the big picture of how the government has been failing Chinese women on multiple fronts. making them increasingly antagonistic to Beijing’s pro-natalist drive».

«The study, titled “Report on University Students’ Opinions on Marriage and Having Children,” was discussed at an academic seminar held on April 14 in Beijing, in which academics from various institutions shared their research on how students college students address dating and family life “in the age of the Internet.” For his research, Li surveyed nearly 10,000 students from more than 30 universities across the country. Overall, Li found that the level of willingness to marry was higher than she expected. More than 61% of those surveyed expressed “an explicit desire to find a spouse”, while only 7% of them were completely against the idea. When asked why they wanted to be single and childless, male students cited financial insecurity, while their female counterparts cited prioritizing career goals as their top reason.».

«One aspect of Li’s study is how participants’ behavior on the Internet affects their attitudes toward marriage and children, and this is where the controversy arose. After analyzing all the survey responses, Li wrote that heavy Internet use among college students seemed to decrease their desire to marry and have children. Li says that different social networking sites have different effects. Regular use of Weibo, which is more or less the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, leads to more negative views of marriage and family formation. Douban, a Reddit-like social network that started out as a forum to discuss literature, music, and movies, had a similar effect. In contrast, those who spent a lot of time on Xiaohongshu, a fashion and lifestyle e-commerce platform whose name means “little red book,” tended to view marriage and children favorably.».

«Li also has theories about users’ engagement with “subcultures.” He says that those who liked competitive video games, also known as eSports, were more likely to view marriage positively, while those who watched anime or read a lot of web novels tended to think the opposite about marriage. Li does not draw any controversial conclusions from his results, nor does he propose any policies that would restrict college students’ screen time. But news of his investigation has sparked strong reactions on Weibo. Critics say it’s unfair to cast social media and harmless hobbies in a negative light in a study investigating China’s low birthrates, while ignoring the real factors that directly affect young women’s decisions about marriage and The paternity».

«This report is complete garbage. On Weibo and Douban there is a lot of negative news about women’s issues, such as gender-based violence and systematic discrimination, almost every day. Users of these two platforms are reluctant to marry and have children not because of the platforms themselves, but because of the frequency with which they are exposed to negative content on these sites“, wrote a Weibo user (in Chinese). Another wrote to Li: “There are a lot of problems that remain to be solved. High house prices, high cost of living, the 996 (work 9am-9pm, 6 days a week), divorce cooling off, women trafficking, to name a few. only some. How about turning your attention to studies that have a real impact?».

«Some critics also took issue with the premise of Li’s study, saying that by identifying China’s baby bust as a problem that needs to be “fixed,” his research has joined a broader body of academic work that puts the government’s priority of maintaining a massive population above the individual freedom of women to make decisions about their bodies and their lives. “As Chinese women become more educated and their economic status continues to grow, it’s only natural that they want more power over their lives. It is entirely reasonable that many feel that motherhood is no longer a necessity. Why do these researchers keep identifying it as a problem and want to find solutions?said a Weibo user (in Chinese)».

«Similar answers were previously given to a study by Zēng Díyáng 曾迪洋, a public policy researcher at Nanjing University of Finance and Economics. Zeng’s work explored how overtime work affects individuals’ willingness to reproduce. “The whole situation is incredibly depressing. I feel like a cow surrounded by breeders discussing whether to play Mozart or Chopin to make my meat more tender.“, then wrote a Weibo user in response to Zeng’s study».

«This misalignment of attitudes also occurred last year, when Wú Xiūmíng 吴修明, a senior researcher at a government-funded think tank, called on authorities to increase the country’s marriage rates by encouraging the migration of single women from cities to the countryside, where millions of single men are looking for brides.. At the time, his suggestion was criticized by netizens, who said they were perfectly fine with being single and would never compromise their standards for the sake of getting married.».

Source: SupChina | China

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