Editor's note

Not long ago, the account of tens of millions of fans anchor "Xiucai" was blocked and rushed to the hot search. According to public reports, most of the fans of "Xiucai" are middle-aged and elderly women, known as "middle-aged and elderly women harvesters" and "pension killers". This incident triggered a heated discussion among netizens about the online social difficulties of the elderly.

In recent years, with the aging of the population and the popularization of the Internet, the number of elderly netizens has grown rapidly, and the demand for online products has increased, and the time spent surfing the Internet and brushing mobile phones every day is getting longer and longer. Problems such as the elderly addicted to the Internet, credulous Internet rumors, keen on online shopping, and induced to give tips emerge one after another.

In the digital era, how to respond to the social needs of the elderly and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the elderly? From today, the Jingwei edition of the rule of law will launch a special column "Solving the Social Dilemma of the Elderly in the Digital Age" and launch a series of reports, please pay attention to it.

● In recent years, the proportion of Internet users aged 60 and above has increased rapidly, reaching 2022 million elderly Internet users as of December 12. Some research reports show that many elderly people spend an average of 1 hours or even 53 hours online every day, addicted to it, and become "silver-haired low-headed people"

● Internet addiction not only affects the health of the elderly, but also brings a series of risks including personal safety and property. Some elderly people are keen on online shopping, "the anchor believes everything he says", and the express delivery at home is piled up; Some elderly people are deeply caught in online scams and are deceived by money and feelings

● Improve legislation and relevant policies, and establish and complete mechanisms for protecting the rights and interests of the elderly online. Strengthen targeted online education and training for the elderly, teaching them to set up security measures, identify online scams, protect personal information, improve network security capabilities, and safeguard lawful rights and interests

● The platform should manage the content well, take timely measures for content and behaviors that contain misleading, fraudulent, etc., and set up a convenient complaint mechanism to facilitate reporting and investigation. Relevant departments should increase supervision and focus on cracking down on entities that improperly guide consumption for special groups

□ Wen Lijuan, reporter of this newspaper

□ Ding Yi, trainee reporter of this newspaper

"Buzz..." The phone vibrates, the sound of chopping vegetables pauses for a few seconds, and all that remains in the kitchen is the grumbling of cooking pots. Soon, the sound of the collision of the kitchen knife and the cutting board resounded, but after a while, the second vibration sounded, and the sound of cutting vegetables was interrupted again...

Wen Qing secretly looked and saw her mother put the kitchen knife on the cutting board, rubbed her hands quickly on her apron, and then held her mobile phone. Wen Qing could only see her mother's back, her right arm shaking at a small frequency, she guessed that her mother must have a smile on her face and was leaving a message on the short video platform.

The 61-year-old mother plays short videos and holds her phone for at least seven or eight hours a day. This made Wen Qing turn from joy to worry - her mother, who came to Beijing from her hometown to take care of her family, has her own hobbies, and does not seem to be as lonely as the "old drifters"; Addiction to short videos affected health, the mother suffered from tenosynovitis, and the doctor's treatment was to apply ointment and reduce the time spent using mobile phones.

This is not an isolated case. According to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center, in recent years, the proportion of Internet users aged 60 and above has increased rapidly, and as of December 2022, the number of elderly Internet users reached 12 million. Some research reports show that many elderly people spend more than 1 hours or even 53 hours online every day.

Brush short videos, make friends and get married, shop online, and make a list in the live broadcast room... They let themselves go in the online world, and some even "don't think about tea and rice", deeply trapped in it, and become "silver-haired low-headed people". During the interview, a number of interviewees sent a similar exclamation to the reporter of "Rule of Law Daily": "My parents are infected with 'Internet addiction', what should I do?" ”

Staying up late to swipe your phone is the norm

Addicted to the Internet, you can't help yourself

Wen Qing is 32 years old this year and has just given birth. The mother was worried about her daughter's health, so she rushed from her hometown in Hunan to Beijing. In the year of living with her mother, Wen Qing found that her mother became more and more obsessed with mobile phones: when stir-frying, if the mobile phone rang, immediately turn down the heat, wipe her hands and take out the mobile phone to see; When mopping, I will also put my mobile phone in my pocket, and as long as the information comes, I will lean the mop against the wall; Even because I brushed my phone, after filling the rice cooker with rice, I forgot to press the switch ...

Not long ago, Wen Qing found that her mother, like young people, swiped her mobile phone until one or two o'clock in the morning. When she got up to go to the bathroom after 1 a.m. that day, she found that there was still a faint light in her mother's room. She asked softly, "Did you sleep?" There was no response from the house, and she pushed open the door and saw her mother lying on her side under the covers, wearing headphones and watching a video. Spotting her daughter come in, the mother hurriedly turned off the phone screen, explaining that she was "not too sleepy."

Originally, Wen Qing felt that her mother came to Beijing to take care of her family's living, and there were no friends around, and she couldn't speak Mandarin very well, so it was good to be able to play with her mobile phone and watch short videos to pass the time. But my mother was too addicted to it, and often stayed up late, resulting in her health deteriorating and often forgetting what to do. Recently, her mother, who had severe muscle pain under her right thumb, went to the hospital to check for tenosynovitis, and the doctor prescribed medication and told her to "reduce the time she spends on her phone."

There are many elderly people who are so addicted to the Internet.

Xia Linmei, 68, who lives alone in Beijing's Chaoyang Changying area, got her third smartphone in August. "The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to take my mobile phone, and when I wake up in the middle of the night, I have to swipe my mobile phone for a while, and I get flustered when I don't look at it for a while." Xia Linmei said that at first she used her smartphone to make video calls with her son, but she slowly got used to it, and she didn't know how much time she spent "soaking" in her mobile phone every day.

Social apps, shopping apps, film and television apps... The reporter saw in Xia Linmei's mobile phone interface that some apps commonly used by young people were readily available in her mobile phone. She skillfully opened a social software and said to reporters: "Look, this is a new friend I met some time ago, and I added a friend through 'shake', and now I have to chat a few words every day." ”

Recently, Xia Linmei's "new favorite" is a reading software, and the various and regularly updated novels in it give her hope. "Like chasing dramas, I always want to know how the follow-up will be, which is a bit addictive." Xia Linmei said that since she became obsessed with reading novels, she was reluctant to sleep at night, "I always feel that there is not enough time, I have to read it for a while when I wake up in the middle of the night, sometimes I am sleepy, and I fall asleep holding my mobile phone."

Like Xia Linmei, many of the elderly interviewed have used mobile phones to watch short videos and online articles as a pastime to find spiritual sustenance, "feeling that the day has passed quickly."

What worries children is that addiction to the Internet not only affects the health of the elderly, but also brings a series of risks including personal safety and property damage. Jiang Fu, a 60-year-old native of Shandong, has been fascinated by online novels since the death of his wife, often holding his mobile phone for hours. Once cooking, the pot was boiled dry, he didn't know, and almost fried the pan. "I was really afraid when I thought about it, and I forgot other things when I looked at my phone, but I couldn't help but not look at it." Jiang Fu said.

Live shopping becomes a chopping party

Accidentally fall into a trap

After the popularity of live broadcasting, some elderly people have also become fascinated by watching live broadcasts and shopping in live broadcast rooms.

"My mother was addicted to shopping in the live broadcast room, bought the so-called Hetian jade and precious metals with appraisal certificates at home, and the express boxes were piled up" "My dad spent 99 yuan on the live broadcast room to buy things, I found 9.9 yuan on the e-commerce platform, my dad said that the things I was looking for were fake"... Many interviewees complained to reporters that their parents who were over the age of Huajia were addicted to live shopping, and some said that "old people with Internet addiction are 'crazy', even surpassing young people."

Zhang Lingling, a resident of Zaozhuang, Shandong, has been a little upset recently because her yard is about to be filled with courier boxes. "My mother shopped in the live broadcast room all day long, saying that the things in the live broadcast room were super cheap, and the piles of agricultural and sideline products at home were half rotten and half, and unknown health products were not eaten when they were unpacked." Zhang Lingling said.

Her mother, who is in her 60s, often brushes short videos and watches live broadcasts, "the anchor believes everything he says", and has become a "chopping party", first buying food, then clothes, jewelry, etc., and at most received more than a dozen couriers a day. Once, Zhang Lingling happened to be at home on vacation, she checked the things her mother bought, and found that the quality and color of some products were quite different from those introduced by the anchor, some clothes did not even have fabric identification ingredients, and some "health products" packaging said ××oral liquid, ×× pills, but in the lower right corner in a particularly small font written fruit drinks, compressed candies, etc.

Liu Ying from Harbin, Heilongjiang, has similar problems. When she returned to her hometown during the May Day holiday this year, she found that there were many jade, calligraphy and paintings, and ceramic vases stacked at home, and her mother happily introduced the so-called famous paintings and antiques she bought in the live broadcast room. "My mother said that these things are worth millions of yuan, and if something happens to the boss's house, it is only a few hundred yuan to deal with it at a low price. If you can find a good channel to sell, you can make a lot of money. Liu Ying couldn't laugh or cry after hearing this.

She flipped through the "famous paintings" and "antiques" her mother bought, and found that most of them cost about four or five hundred yuan, and she bought a total of fifty or sixty pieces, spending more than 160,<> yuan. Among them, there is a so-called "famous painting worth <>,<> yuan", her mother spent thousands of yuan to buy, Liu Ying noticed that the seams between the patterns are very neat, obviously made by machines, she searched on the online shopping platform, immediately displayed the same model, priced at <> yuan.

Some netizens joked: "The speed of return cannot keep up with the speed of my milk being deceived." ”

The reporter's interview found that many elderly people have poor awareness of prevention and are convinced of the so-called investment products recommended by anchors. Zhao He, a native of Shaoyang, Hunan Province, is 65 years old this year and often broadcasts live on various short video platforms. Once, he brushed that an anchor taught people to make accounts to make money, and the other party said that he could bring avatars, accounts, clips and videos, hang commodity links, etc., and could earn several hundred yuan a day and five or six thousand yuan a month.

Zhao He was moved, he immediately contacted the other party to register for the course, and spent 3000,<> yuan to buy the course. After paying, he found that the course was all about making short videos and bringing goods, and there were many professional terms, which he couldn't understand with a junior high school degree. He asked the other party to withdraw from the course, but was prevaricated by the other party for various reasons, and still sent him the course link every day.

In desperation, he told his daughter about it. After some negotiation, the other party agreed to deduct the relevant fees and refund the fee, and finally refunded 800 yuan.

"We elderly people want to prove that we are still worthy, and the anchor can speak to our hearts, and the fire in our hearts is ignited, but we don't know that there are so many traps in it." After being pitted, Zhao He was very annoyed.

Find a sense of belonging online

All kinds of harvests are impossible to prevent

Why are there more and more "Internet addicts"? The reporter interviewed dozens of elderly people and learned that they generally have a "sense of loneliness" and "disconnection", and are keen on online social networking to seek a "sense of belonging".

Experts interviewed pointed out that the social and demographic structure has gradually changed, and the characteristics of family size are small, family types are alienated, and family members are dispersed, and the phenomenon of "silver-haired people" living alone and empty nests is easier and earlier. In order to take care of the next generation, some elderly people move to a strange metropolis with their children, leaving the familiar living environment, and their inner loneliness is even stronger. Objectively, the opportunity for the elderly to communicate face-to-face with society and children is reduced, and mobile phones build a virtual living space for the elderly to express themselves, express their emotions, and alleviate the emptiness of their spirit.

The "2020 Internet Life Report for the Elderly" pointed out that some elderly groups show an "extreme loneliness" on mobile phone networks, living on the network almost around the clock.

Zhao He told reporters that in order to keep the children who left after eating, he installed wireless broadband at home in the first two years, and then the children stayed for a long time, but there was more time to swipe mobile phones, and there was not much time for face-to-face communication.

Xia Linmei said: "With the smartphone, I have more frequent online contact with my son, but he has come home to see him less often. ”

"The elderly are also worried about being disconnected from society, and the herd nature of the online world gives netizens an illusory sense of security, making the elderly feel that they can keep up with the pace of the times and have a certain degree of connection with society, so as to find a sense of belonging." Ma Lihong, a senior partner at Beijing DHH Law Firm, said.

Chen Yun, a 66-year-old resident of Chaoyang, Beijing, is a square dance enthusiast who often shares small videos of her square dancing through short video platforms, sometimes livestreaming. "The works I posted on the platform, many people liked it, they liked and commented on me, in order not to disappoint fans, I carefully replied to every message, but it takes a lot of time and energy, and it is very stressful."

Some elderly self-media creators also mentioned that the emptiness and disconnection of real life can be found in the network, and network groups and self-media platforms have become important places of belonging in life.

However, the complexity of the online world also makes many elderly people unavoidable. Ma Lihong said that some network operators track every step of the elderly on the Internet through the capture of cookies and the unlimited request for mobile phone permissions, so as to accurately grasp the entertainment and emotional needs of the elderly through big data algorithms, information flow feeding, algorithm killing, precision marketing, forming layers of "harvesting" routines.

"It is undeniable that the Internet does bring convenience to the lives of the elderly and enrich the lives of the elderly, but there are also many chaos in the Internet content involving the elderly, and many 'silver-haired people' have a short Internet age, lack the ability to screen and identify effective information, and are easily 'routine', such as buying some 'bargains' of little use, health care products, etc., and even some chasing fake stars and Internet celebrities, being cheated of money and feelings." Ma Lihong said.

Xu Xiaoyan, a partner at Beijing Anli (Hangzhou) Law Firm, also found that the elderly have relatively weak receptivity to new things, single channels for obtaining information, insufficient ability to distinguish information, and lack vigilance against online fraud methods and common online scams. Due to the lack of knowledge and experience of the Internet, older people are more likely to be deceived by the false information of bad actors.

"Compared with young people, the elderly have a lower ability to use the Internet and new technologies, are not familiar with network operations and security settings, and are easy targets for cyber scammers." Xu Xiaoyan said.

Public reports show that many of the recent cases of old-age fraud cracked down by the judicial authorities have touched the net.

Implement platform supervision responsibilities

Improve the social skills of the elderly

How to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the elderly while responding to their online social needs? Xu Xiaoyan introduced that China's protection of the elderly is mainly reflected in the Civil Code, the Law on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly and other laws, but there are no specific and clear legal provisions for the protection of the elderly in terms of online behavior, and lack of practicality.

However, the relevant departments have paid attention to such problems.

The Provisions on the Administration of Algorithm Recommendations for Internet Information Services, which came into effect on March 2022, 3, clarifies that where providers of algorithm recommendation services provide services to the elderly, they shall protect the rights and interests enjoyed by the elderly in accordance with law, fully consider the needs of the elderly for travel, medical treatment, consumption, errands, etc., provide intelligent services for the elderly in accordance with relevant national provisions, lawfully carry out monitoring, identification, and disposal of information related to telecommunications network fraud, and facilitate the safe use of algorithm recommendation services by the elderly.

The "General Design Code for Internet Websites Suitable for Aging", which came into effect on April 2021, 4, explicitly restricts advertising plug-ins and induction buttons, and requires pages with age-appropriate services or independent age-appropriate websites, and advertising content and plug-ins are strictly prohibited from appearing on web pages, nor can advertisements or temporary advertising pop-ups appear randomly. There are no inducing buttons such as inducing download and payment on web pages or independent age-appropriate websites that provide age-appropriate services.

In Xu Xiaoyan's view, in order to prevent the elderly from being deceived, promote the correct online social interaction of the elderly, and promote offline communication, we should make comprehensive efforts from multiple levels.

"Improve legislation and relevant policies, and establish and complete mechanisms for protecting the rights and interests of the elderly online." Improve legislative work related to the protection of the elderly, and formulate specific, clear, and feasible laws, regulations, and policy mechanisms for the protection of the rights and interests of the elderly on the Internet. Xu Xiaoyan said that at the same time, it is necessary to increase the publicity and implementation of laws, regulations and policies, improve the awareness of the whole society on the laws and policies for the protection of the Internet rights and interests of the elderly, and ensure the effective implementation of laws, regulations and policies.

Xu Xiaoyan suggested that it is also necessary to strengthen online education and training for the elderly, by providing network technology training and network security education for the elderly, teaching them how to use the Internet and new technologies, how to set up security measures, how to identify network scams, how to protect personal information, and improve their network security capabilities.

The regulatory responsibilities of the platform must also be put in place. "For online platforms, supervision should be strengthened and a mechanism for accountability should be established and improved." Xu Xiaoyan said.

Yi Yan, senior co-partner of Beijing DHH Law Firm, proposed that anti-fraud publicity should be strengthened through the Internet platform, and the anti-fraud publicity for the elderly should be targeted, such as using big data calculations to summarize the categories, fields, manifestations, etc. that the elderly over 60 years old are most interested in, and combine the preferences of the elderly to carry out anti-fraud publicity.

"For platforms, it is necessary to manage content well, take timely measures for content and behaviors that contain misleading, fraudulent and other content, and set up a convenient complaint mechanism to facilitate netizens to report inappropriate content in time." Relevant departments should also strengthen supervision, focusing on cracking down on entities that improperly guide consumption for special groups, and increase publicity to enhance the Internet literacy and safety awareness of the elderly. Ma Lihong said.

Experts interviewed pointed out that all sectors of society should increase attention and support for the elderly group, encourage social organizations and volunteers to participate in the protection of the rights and interests of the elderly online, provide more help and support for the elderly, organize more offline activities, and help the elderly establish a healthy and sustainable social model.

(The elderly interviewed in the article are pseudonyms)

(Source: Rule of Law Daily)