A 114-year-old woman surfs the internet using her cellphone in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, last year.[Photo by Si Wei/China Daily]
Chen Jianjuan, 78, usually turns on her computer to surf the internet at about 9 pm before she goes to bed.
In addition to information and entertainment, she really wants to know what her 10-year-old grandson has done during the day.
Chen, who is now living in Huizhou, about 120 kilometers from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, learned how to surf the internet when her son returned home to spend Spring Festival with her in January.
“It was my grandson who taught me to surf the internet,” said Chen, a retired civil servant.
“Every day, my grandson, who attends school in Guangzhou, sends me some photos and messages telling me what he had done that day, and I can’t fall asleep unless I’ve read his messages,” Chen said.
She said she will call him on WeChat if he doesn’t contact her.
Elsewhere, Shen Sanshan, a retired professor in Guangzhou, who is in his 60s, said he has gone online for shopping for more than two years.
“I mainly buy books online,” Shen said. “Online shopping is convenient, and buyers are usually offered some discounts. ... I ordered today, and the books will be delivered to my home tomorrow.”
Chen and Shen are just two of the growing number of seniors across the country who use the internet regularly.
According to a survey by the Canton Public Opinion Research Center, more than 32 percent of retirees nationwide frequently go online－and the trend is upward.
Acquiring knowledge and information, entertainment and online shopping were the top three reasons Chinese retirees gave for their internet activities. The center interviewed around 3,000 residents nationwide in recent months, including more than 500 people above 60 years old.
Xia Xueluan, a professor of social sciences at Peking University, said surfing the internet not only helps seniors improve the quality of their lives but also helps further expand domestic consumption as they shop online.
He urged internet and IT companies to develop more technologies and products that will help seniors surf the internet even more easily.
Chen Ming, a professor of demography at Xiamen University, said opening the way for more retirees to access the internet can help the seniors maintain contact with society, which is good for their health.
“Surfing the internet is more positive than negative for retirees,” Chen said. “We might worry that our kids’ studies might be affected if they become addicted to surfing the internet or to online games, but we do not have to worry about that with senior residents, who have a lot of time to spend.”
Compared with children, seniors have more ability to control how much time they spend online, he added.
According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the number of people over 60 years old will reach 243 million by 2020 and is expected to surpass 300 million in 2025.