We all know the feeling — you want to check what someone you care about has been up to on social media, and suddenly you find you are denied access to their feeds. It’s an instant trigger of mixed emotions and speculations — when did this happen? Did I do anything wrong? What are they attempting to hide from me?
And that’s what half of Chinese parents have to deal with when they try to browse their children’s WeChat Moments, also known as “Friends’ Circle” (朋友圈 péngyǒuquān), as suggested by a recent survey released by Tencent, the Chinese internet giant behind the all-encompassing social app WeChat.
According to the report, entitled “Annual White Paper on Family Affection on WeChat Moments,” about 52 percent of WeChat users aged 18 to 29 block their parents on Moments, a predominant feature on the platform that allows users to share everything they like with their WeChat contacts.
As to why young Chinese don’t share personal stories with their parents, about 62 percent of them said that parents “are neurotic about everything,” along with a string of reasons such as fear of parents’ disapproval, aversion to parents’ nagging, and seeking privacy.
“My parents don’t know Moments very well, so I just told them I don’t use it anymore,” Qin Jianping 秦建平, a 28-year-old living in Chongqing, told local newspaper Chongqing Evening Daily. Qin said that since he broke up with his girlfriend two years ago, his parents had been leaving comments requesting updates on his dating status on every post he made on Moments.
A heavy user of the sharing feature, Qin updates his Moments almost on a daily basis, mostly sharing interesting stories from his workplace or outside it, but his parents, as well as other relatives, are all excluded from his list of WeChat friends with access to his feeds. “Once they know I have free time, they nag me about getting married,” Qin said.
Xie Yun 谢芸, a Chongqing-based 26-year-old, told the newspaper that while she didn’t block her parents entirely, they were in a specific group to which she only shares positive posts. “I don’t want my parents to see minor setbacks in my life,” she said, adding that once her parents saw a Moments picture of her hand getting slightly burned while cooking, and they traveled all the way to her city to make sure she was all right.
The report also found that more than 49 percent of Chinese parents use WeChat as a main channel to communicate with their children, and roughly 36 percent of the parents who took the survey said they checked every post made by their children.
When asked how they would react to being blocked, some parents said they would initiate a conversation with their children to find out the reason, while others said they wouldn’t care.
And some parents just outsmart their kids in this hide-and-seek game online.
“I didn’t realize I was blocked until I compared what I could see on my phone to what my son’s aunt could see,” said Chen, a mother of a 27-year-old son. “I chose to remain silent on this and now I’m following my son’s posts through his aunt.”