Japanese Children Cellphone Obsession

From Google news.

Young Japanese people are evolving a new lifestyle for the 21st century based on the cellphones that few are now able to live without.

They are using their phones to read books, listen to music, chat with friends and surf the Internet -- an average of 124 minutes a day for high school girls and 92 minutes for boys.

While the wired world they now inhabit holds enormous advantages for learning and communicating, it also brings a downside, say experts who point to a rise in cyberbullying and a growing inability among teenagers to deal with other people face to face.

"Kids say what's most important to them, next to their own lives, is their cellphone," said Masashi Yasukawa, head of the private National Web Counselling Council.

"They are moving their thumbs while eating or watching television," he said.

The passion in 20-year-old Ayumi Chiba's voice backs up this assertion.

"My life is impossible without it," she says of her cellphone. "I used to pretend I was sick and leave school early when I forgot to take it with me."

As the multi-faceted cellphone takes centre stage in teen life, it plays a number of roles -- including a weapon that children can wield against each other with no thought for the consequences.

Yasukawa recalls the case of a 15-year-old girl who regularly received messages telling her: "Die," "You're a nuisance" and "You smell".

They turned out to have been sent by a friend in whom she had confided and who told her not to take the messages too seriously.

"The girl who was doing the bullying confessed it made her feel good to see the unease spreading on her friend's face," Yasukawa said.

Most middle school cellphone users rarely used their phone to talk, the survey found. Saito, of Kawamura Gakuen Women's University near Tokyo, said children seemed to want the security of communicating with someone, without the bother of dealing with a real person.

"Communication ability is bound to decline as cellphones and other devices are now getting between people," he said.

Saito's survey found that students can also use their cellphones as an emotional crutch, and the more problems they have at home, the more dependent they seem to become on their phones.

More than 60 percent of students who said they do not enjoy being with their families send 20 or more emails a day, compared with 35 percent of those happy with their families.


South Korea Opens Boot Camp to Confront Internet Addiction.


blog comments powered by Disqus