• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 11:36am

Mothers mobilised to root out porn, violence and Web addiction

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 June, 2010, 12:00am

About one-third of the internet users on the mainland are under the age of 18, posing a challenge for the authorities over how to shield minors from content deemed harmful under official standards and how to deal with the scourge of internet addiction.

As the internet plays an important role in the everyday lives of minors and helps shape their character, authorities said in the white paper released yesterday that the Web also exposed teenagers to harmful content - such as online porn and violent online games - as well as the problem of addiction.

A survey on youth internet addiction conducted last year by the University of Communication of China, which sampled 8,943 people, showed that 14 per cent of those aged between six and 29 in urban areas, or about 24 million, had developed addictions.

A survey by the Communist Party Committee last year in Jiangxi found that 48 per cent of teenagers surveyed said that they had viewed porn sites in the past and that 43 per cent said they had received e-mails and e-cards promoting pornographic and violent websites.

In response, authorities said they would continue to push for the 'Mother Education Plan', a parental mobilisation programme to clean up the internet.

As part of the plan, dozens of mothers have been recruited by the Beijing Association of Online Media, a non-profit agency affiliated with the government since late last year, as volunteers to notify regulators of unhealthy information on the Web. Under an initiative launched by the Ministry of Culture and six online game providers, parents who are concerned about their children's possible addiction could ask the game providers to block access to their games.

The paper said the government would encourage the development of online software to help protect minors and developers, and service providers would be given incentives to develop online products and services for underage surfers. While some of the crackdowns have been welcomed by parents and the wider community, many have been dismissed as overkill.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had ordered all computer manufacturers to pre-install Green Dam, a domestically developed filter, in computers sold after July 1 last year. But it rescinded the order following an international furore over the software's potential to further stifle the flow of information in a country where content restrictions are among the most stringent in the world.

Even so, the filtering software has been prevalent on the mainland.

Other efforts aimed at protecting minors raised similar outcries. A government-run clinic in Linyi, Shandong , was found to have used electric shock therapy to treat teenagers with internet addictions, for example.

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