The popularization of digital technology has provided important technical support for further promoting rural revitalization, but "left-behind children trapped in short videos" have also aroused widespread concern in society. Statistical analysis of China's left-behind children data in 2022 shows that the number of rural left-behind children under the age of 16 in China is 9.02 million. At the same time, the installation rate of live video apps in rural areas is more than 98%, and watching short videos (69%) has surpassed playing games (33.1%), becoming the most important entertainment for left-behind children.
Short videos do help left-behind children in rural areas open a window to see the outside world, but left-behind children are in an important period of individual socialization. Due to the lack of media literacy and parental supervision, they are more susceptible to negative impacts when using short video platforms, and face a series of difficulties that we must pay enough attention to.
Focus on the inner world and emotional experience of left-behind children based on individual difficulties
Short videos let left-behind children see the world they would not have seen without mobile phones. In the sharp contrast and contrast between the "utopia" created by the precise push algorithm and the unsatisfactory real life, left-behind children are often more yearning for the world in short videos, easily dominated by algorithms, trapped in the impassable information cocoon, and gradually blur the boundary between the virtual world and real life, resulting in a strong sense of separation in emotional experience. The more colorful the virtual world presented by the short video, the more barren the real life seems.
Short videos reconstruct the socialization of children themselves, and children are forced to reduce their attention to people and things around them, constantly swaying on the boundary between virtual and real, which leads to the confusion of values of left-behind children. Under the influence of seemingly personalized but often highly homogenized short video content, some left-behind children who have been immersed in short videos for a long time dream of becoming Internet celebrities and game anchors, and they always talk about the buzzwords of short video platforms such as "dinosaur anti-wolf" and "I don't have K". This pan-entertainment value is extremely harmful to left-behind children in a critical period of socialization. As a group of children who most need social care, the value orientation of left-behind children can reflect the achievements of China's spiritual civilization construction from the details. We should pay attention to the inner world and emotional experience of left-behind children, lean down to care about their motives for using short videos, and do a good job of guiding their values.
Family dilemma: helpless grandparents and helpless absent parents
The scholar Cooley regards parents as the "primary group" in which human beings complete the socialization process, and believes that parents are the cradle of human socialization and the training place of human nature. The absence of parents is exactly a major feature imprinted on the left-behind children, they are often easy to produce low self-esteem, autism and a series of psychological problems. The mass of short video content, which is suitable for them, plays a very important role in solving the depression in their hearts. However, most of the left-behind children do not have the mature mind and the ability to control the use of short videos. The helpless absence of parents not only brings certain emotional trauma to the left-behind children, but also makes the left-behind children easily go to the other extreme of addiction in the process of using short videos.
In the family difficulties that left-behind children are facing, the drawbacks of intergenerational rearing are also fully manifested. Their grandparents have become "absentees", often helpless in the face of children who hold mobile phones for a long time and watch short videos, and even give their mobile phones to children as "electronic babysitters" to prevent them from "crazy playing and getting into trouble" during the holiday. As a result, many left-behind children who lack parental supervision and guidance slide into indulging in games and short videos under the inability of their grandparents to control them.
The helpless absence of parents and the helplessness of grandparents are the survival situation that left-behind children must face, which is the most important and special reason for them to be "trapped in short videos". We have no intention to blame the parents and grandparents of left-behind children. In the case of helpless absence of family education, schools and society should give corresponding assistance to left-behind children's families to help them get away from short videos and see a more wonderful childhood outside the mobile phone screen.
Social dilemmas: Persistent stereotypes and accusations of phone addiction
For a long time, all walks of life have various concerns about left-behind children, such as "Internet addiction teenagers" and "children who get into mobile phones". This concern is also not a stereotype or even a partial stigmatization, and can not help left-behind children get away from short videos, let alone touch the root of the problem. Studies have pointed out that the image of teenagers addicted to short videos is not necessarily valid, it may be a performance or misrepresentation, and the use of addiction is not a line between the line, but a gulf. This view may provide new ideas for us to face the plight of short video use of left-behind children. In the eyes of left-behind children, short videos play the role of more than electronic toys, which is the lowest cost way for them to see the outside world. They have trouble taking a trip on demand with their parents, lack the opportunity to browse colorful picture books at the nearest library, and often have an old cellphone that doesn't even belong to them. Left-behind children, who suffer from a lack of material life and relative absence of family companionship, should not bear the additional charge of "Internet addiction".
One of the reasons for this dilemma of left-behind children is our long-held view of children. All along, school, family and society are the main forces to think and define children, but there are desires and interests worthy of questioning behind any other person's construction of children's images. Why do left-behind children watch or even shoot short videos for a long time? Are they really that addicted to short videos? In the judgment of left-behind children as the main body, they seldom hear their own voice, which to some extent leads to the stigmatization of left-behind children in many situations. The new childhood sociology advocates that the right to speak should be returned to children, that children should be regarded as active subject forces, that the intrinsic value of children's life should be recovered, and that children's ability and significance to actively choose and reconstruct social culture and produce their own culture through active use of media should be affirmed. Only by changing the instrumentalist view of children that examines and defines children, can we rescue left-behind children "trapped in short videos" from the root.
The author is an associate professor and master tutor at the School of Public Administration, Hohai University. This paper is a phased research result of the basic research expenses project of Central universities "Research on the influence of new media on children and adolescents and the coping strategies"