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Asian students reflect on Internet preoccupation

TAICHUNG (AsiaNews): The Association of Chinese Catholic University Students held its annual meeting from August 10 to 15 at Providence University, in Taichung, Taiwan, on the theme, You are written in my love.

The annual meeting looks at issues of social importance, connected with the right of every Christian community on the island to make a journey of faith.

The five-day meeting took place in the wake of discussions held at the International Movement of Catholic Students of East Asia July 23 to 29 gathering in Taipei, to which the association belongs, which had been attended by more than 30 students from Hong Kong, Macau, Japan and Korea.

Much discussion at both meetings was focussed on Internet addiction. The students reflected that for disciples of Christ the Internet should not occupy a disproportionate amount of time during the day, otherwise it would be impossible to live daily life with a Christian spirit.

The students emphasised the importance of sharing time with the family, instead of constantly sitting in front of the computer or continuously being on the telephone like a clan of bowed heads in isolation from the world.

The two gatherings encouraged young people of faith to reach out in simpler and more human ways, to use the Internet less and encourage face to face contact.

They also stressed the importance of sharing the wealth of authentic relationships from a reflection on the word of God.

“On the Internet it is very easy to make new friends,” one Japanese student said, “unfortunately, the relationships are not as authentic, because it is also possible to discover and disclose the secrets of almost every person, to commit fraud, spread gossip…”

Another from Hong Kong described the Internet as “essentially anonymous, with no special ethical restrictions. By contrast, it creates a longing and a desire for real relationships in young people outside the purely virtual world.”

A professor of ethics and author of a study on the effects of technological development in the lives of young people named Wu, stressed at the meeting that Internet addiction in the east Asian region is a serious problem among young students.

“Some students surf the network for 15 hours every day, time for study and rest are overturned, some use the Internet until two or three in the morning, resulting in severe damage to vision and, because of lack of sleep, they often grow impatient and violent, living in a false world that has few references to reality,” Wu told the group.

A Korean student said that it is easier to use the telephone to find data and play on the Internet, but it often leads young people to isolate themselves from friends.

“If before schools were full of noise and laughter, now there is only silence, with students playing on the Internet and becoming a clan of bowed heads,” the Korean student commented.

She added, “Everyone in the family has their own mobile phone. They live under the same roof but do not share the same life.”

One the positive side, a Japanese student pointed to the experience of the tsunami in Japan last year, when, in the midst of disaster, the Internet helped a large number of victims to contact surviving family.

University chaplain, Father Feng, one of the organisers, emphasised that all this requires a serious debate on the effect of technological development on the lives of young people today.


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