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The ‘Bowed Head Clan’ (低头族): Mother Watches Phone While Son Drowns in Pool

The shocking footage of a woman playing on her phone while her 4-year-old son drowned in the pool just a few meters behind her has sparked discussions on the dangers of being a ‘smartphone addict’ (低头族).

Manya Koetse

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The shocking footage that showed how a Chinese mother played on her phone while her 4-year-old son drowned in the pool – just a few meters behind her – has sparked discussions on the dangers of being a ‘smartphone addict’ (低头族).

A tragic story has received much (social) media attention in China and beyond over the past week. It concerns an incident that occurred on January 3rd in the “Spa World” pool in Xiangyang, Shaanxi, where a mother was watching her phone as her 4-year-old son struggled in the water behind her. Footage shows that after 3 minutes, the young boy drowned.

According to Sina News, the woman had taken her son and her 6-year-old daughter to play in the local spa resort’s kid’s pool area. When they were about to leave, the woman, named Xiao, discovered her son was no longer in the shallow end of the pool and she alerted the swimming pool staff.

Mrs. Xiao looks down on her phone as her child is drowning just a few metres behind her.

Mrs. Xiao looks down on her phone as her child is drowning just a few metres behind her.

It allegedly took the staff an hour to find the 4-year-old on the bottom of the swimming pool – he had died by the time they found him. The incident, captured by security cameras, triggered different discussions on Chinese social media about who can be held responsible for the boy’s death and had many netizens talking about the dangers of ‘smartphone addiction.’

 

“I hope this is a warning for all netizens to put down their phone and don’t be a smartphone addict.”

 

“If the swimming pool has security cameras it would make sense if they would actually be monitored. They could have saved him if they saw he was drowning,” one netizen says, adding: “I also hope this is a warning for all netizens to put down their phone and don’t be a smartphone addict.”

“Where are the lifeguards? Where are the warning signs? Where is the disclaimer warning people that entering the pool could kill you? This poor woman has lost her baby and you are talking about her sense of responsibility, her world has collapsed!” one netizen comments.

The swimming pool where the accident happened (海泉湾温泉世界).

The swimming pool where the accident happened (海泉湾温泉世界).

The swimming pool reportedly had a shallow end of 0.30 metres and a deep end of 1.3 metres. The boy drowned at a depth of 1.1 metres.

Although many people think the swimming pool can be held (partly) accountable for the incident, a majority of netizens thinks that the full responsibility lies with the mother. “Being a mother takes responsibilities,” one person

“Being a mother takes responsibilities,” one person comments: “Especially when your child is only 4 years old, you never know what they can do. She did not notice anything for a whole 3 minutes.”

“She deserves to be punished,” one Weibo user from Beijing even writes. “She is too careless,” others comment.

 

“In China, ‘smartphone addicts’ are referred to as ‘dītóuzú’, ‘the bowed head clan’, as people usually look down to scroll on their phone.”

 

According to Tianjin News, surveys have pointed out that 40% of parents at times neglect their children while looking at their cellphone.

tianjinnews

“Dad, you can’t ignore me!” image via Tianjin News.

Last October, a 2-year-old girl from Yueyang, Hunan, was hit and killed by a car as she was walking in front of her mother and got underneath a driving vehicle. Her mother did not notice as she was staring down on her smartphone. The accident happened within a time frame of just 20 seconds and led to media warning China’s smarthpone addicts to pay attention instead of staring at their screen.

Sina News also reported about a young mother from Chongqing who recently lost her 3-year-old daughter as they were taking a stroll while the mother was looking at her phone – not even noticing her child had wandered off. Police officers later found the little girl unharmed.

CCTV cameras captured how a little girl walked in front of a car in Hunan as her mother was looking at her phone.

CCTV cameras captured how a little girl walked in front of a car in Hunan as her mother was looking at her phone.

In China, ‘smartphone addicts’ are referred to as dītóuzú (低头族), literally: ‘the bowed head clan’, as people usually look down to scroll on their phone.

On Weibo, the hashtag “Don’t be a smartphone addict” has gained some popularity, with people reminding each other to pay attention to your family and friends instead of staring at your phone.

“Smartphone addiction is getting more and more widespread,” one Weibo user remarks: “People just seem inseparable from their phones.”

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Hong-Kong singer Alex Fong posted a picture of his parents on New Year’s Eve, saying: “Smartphone addiction is not just something of the younger generations anymore..”

 

“Wake up, ‘bowed head clan’!”

 

Chinese media point out that being a smartphone addict is also dangerous for one’s health, as it can lead to a painful neck, dizziness, numb fingers, and even permanently damage our spine.

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“Wake up, ‘bowed head clan’!” the People’s Daily writes.

The newspaper lined up 8 questions to test how addicted you are to your phone. They include the following:
1- Do you feel less secure when you have left the house without your phone?
2- Do you always take out your phone to scroll Weibo or WeChat or play a game when waiting for the bus, train or elevator?
3- Do you have your phone within reach when driving, and do you use it when waiting for a red light?
4- Do you often take pictures of your food before eating, sharing it on social media?
5- Are you used to taking out your phone and looking at the screen when meeting up with friends?
6- Do you play on your phone while on the toilet?
7- Do you play on your phone before sleeping?
8- Do you immediately look at your phone screen within moments after waking up?

If you recognize yourself in these questions and have answered three or more with ‘yes’, then you are already part of the ‘bowed head clan’, People’s Daily warns. “Put down your phone,” some netizens say: “Don’t be an addict.”

The swimming pool where the tragic incident happened as been closed for now while an investigation is carried out.

– By Manya Koetse
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©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Health & Science

40-Year-Old Woman Completes Shanghai Marathon While 8 Months Pregnant

Pregnant marathon runner Lili clashes with Chinese traditional attitudes towards women who are expecting a baby.

Jessica Colwell

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A 40-year-old woman named Li Lili (黎莉莉) became news in China after she ran the Shanghai Marathon last Sunday while 32 weeks pregnant, completing the race in five hours and 17 minutes.

This was the third marathon Li has run during her pregnancy. She ran the first two during week eight (with a time of 3:54:43) and week 22 (with a time of 4:47:58) of her pregnancy.

Lily is an avid runner, having completed 62 marathons during her lifetime. Her story went viral on Weibo under the hashtag “8 Months Pregnant 40-Year-Old Woman Runs Marathon” (#40岁孕妇怀胎8月跑完全马#), which has received over 200 million reads at time of writing.

[Li has run three marathons during her pregnancy, one in each trimester.]

Her story has ignited debate across Weibo this week regarding the merits and dangers of vigorous exercise during pregnancy. In interviews with the press, however, Li remained defiant in the face of her critics.

“For many people, they are worried about this because they don’t understand it,” she told video news site Pear Video in an interview.

“Many people have told me it is dangerous. They criticize me, just like they criticized Chen Yihan,” she says, referring to Taiwanese actress Ivy Chen (陈意涵) who faced fierce online criticism after posting pictures of herself running while five months pregnant in 2018.

Actress Ivy Chen’s controversial Weibo post from 2018, showing her running 5 kilometers while five months pregnant.

“But most of these critics have never even been pregnant,” Li continued: “The fact is, I did this because I have a very deep understanding of my own body. I’ve run over 60 marathons, I am an extremely good runner. I’ve run a marathon in 3:28, which is considered an excellent time even for talented athletes, even for men. I have my own training methods, I’ve been training for a very long time, and have carefully prepared for these marathons.”

The reactions to Li’s story online have ranged from enthusiastic praise to outright condemnation.

“Wow! I admire how strong she is! It is said that each person knows what is right for them in their own heart. It’s none of your business what she does with this unborn hero!” gushes the most popular comment on Pear Video’s Weibo post about the story.

But another popular comment argues that marathon running is actually inappropriate for Chinese women in general: “Foreigners running marathons is fine, but this is not for Chinese women. Pregnant Chinese women running marathons is equivalent to them not caring for their children.”

The results from a poll put out by Chengdu Economic Daily so far show the majority of readers do not oppose Li’s decision to run a marathon, with 54,000 choosing the option “One case cannot represent the whole, it will vary from individual to individual” and 38,000 choosing “Support, if the mother’s body is strong enough.” Only 17,000 chose the option “Oppose, pregnant women should not engage in vigorous exercise.”

“What do you think of a 40-year-old woman running a marathon while 8 months pregnant?” asks a Weibo poll by Chengdu Economic Daily.

Some comments on the poll argued that Li was irresponsible to take part in a marathon, in case something did go wrong: “Problems come up when you least expect them. If it’s just you running on your own, that’s one thing. But this is a group race. I can’t say if it’s right or wrong, but it could bring a lot of trouble to other people.”

But the majority of popular comments expressed outright support and admiration, or at the very least opposition to Li’s critics, telling them to mind their own business.

The support for Li’s decision appears to fly in the face of Chinese traditional attitudes towards pregnant women. The list of dos and don’ts for Chinese mothers-to-be is long and complex, ranging from the bizarre (no eating/drinking dark foods so as not to affect the baby’s skin color) to the more common (avoiding shellfish).

The belief that pregnant mothers should avoid exertion is high on the list, extending even to the month after birth.

But despite these strong traditions, Li’s strength and determination have clearly inspired new support for expectant mothers who wish to continue an active lifestyle while pregnant.

Also read: ‘Sitting the Month’ – a Gift or Torture?

Also read: Bad Mom To Be? Pregnant Woman Intentionally Trips 4-Year-Old Boy in Baoji

By Jessica Colwell
Follow @whatsonweibo

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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