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Smartphones put family ties on hold


10:01, October 20, 2012

Despite living in a nation where filial piety is encouraged, elderly Chinese are feeling ignored nowadays as their children and grandchildren focus on their cell phones.

At restaurants, on buses and even at home, the young chat online, play games or browse micro blog feeds on their state-of-the-art smartphones, even with family and friends sitting right next to them.

A grandfather in Qingdao, Shandong province, expressed his anger at the trend by smashing a plate at a dinner table when his grandchildren were too busy with their phones to chat with him.

"You just live with your mobiles," the grandfather was quoted as saying before he left the table.

The story has compelled the public to reflect on how family ties have been affected by the digital era.

"Through the news, I realized that the longest distance in the world was 'when I stand in front of you and you are busy playing with your cell phone'," said Zhang Feng, a white-collar worker who was born in the 1980s.

Zhang, who works at an accounting firm in Shanghai, said pressure at work and frequent business trips have left her at a loss for both the time and the mood to communicate with her parents.

"I seldom talk after work, and social networking sites have become the major channel for me to contact my friends," she said, adding that she would be left behind if she failed to regularly check updates from these sites.

Zhang spends most of her spare time surfing the Internet and, even at the dinner table, she takes photos and uploads them onto her micro blog or blog - something she thinks her parents just don't understand.

"Usually they watch TV in the living room and I stay in my bedroom playing with my cell phone," she said.

At Xujiahui Park in Shanghai, a woman in her 60s surnamed Wang was escorting her grandson to play and skate.

She said her son and daughter-in-law do not arrive home from work until 7 or 8 pm, and then they spend their time surfing the Web on their phones or computers until midnight, when it's time for bed.

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