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Mobile apps helping seniors to socialize

Time: 2018-01-04 10:05  From :HZResearch  Author:HZResearch
 

HEFEI - While most of Jiang Licun's friends are working in the fields, the 53-year-old is living a life of the fame on the internet.

Wearing a headset, Jiang records a popular song on a singing app on his smartphone and uploads it. Within minutes, the song has more than 20 comments and some listeners give him virtual flowers as encouragement.

"I like reading the comments, and I usually reply one by one," said Jiang, a rural resident in Anhui province.

For many seniors, online music platforms such as Tencent's WeSing have created a new stage where they can find songs from the 1980s and 1990s, connect with other "singers" that share similar tastes, and even sing a duet with a complete stranger.

"I have uploaded 133 songs, and I have 442 followers on WeSing," Jiang said. "My daughter said I use the app much better than she does."

In an era of access to information, many seniors are beginning to explore the internet to enrich their lives, particularly WeChat.

Among the seniors who use the popular messaging app, 98.5 percent chat, but about 70 percent also make videos, 40 percent pay mobile phone bills, and 30 percent shop online, according to a report by Tencent and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Many also know how to make hongbao - red envelopes used to send money as a gift.

"I had a video chat with my grandson yesterday," said Pan Xuelan, 60. "He looked fatter than last time.

"I chat with him every week. The internet truly makes life easier."

Older WeChat users have even created a series of special emojis with big characters and bright colors, and that are usually filled with "positive energy", according to a Tencent report.

These emojis, which carry traditional messages, such as "Wish you every success" and "Have a wonderful morning" are considered dated by most young people, but appeal to some due to their retro feel.

"For every holiday, my mother sends me such emojis," said Chen Xiaojie, a teacher in Beijing. "For example, for New Year's Day, she sent me a spinning emoji with the Chinese characters for 'happy holidays'."

Zhao Jie, a professor at Anhui University, said the need for emotional communication and socializing has prompted many seniors to explore the internet.

"Their children should spend more time with them, and encourage them to go out rather than stay at home," Zhao said. "Their lives will become more abundant with more companionship, and they will rely less on the internet."

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