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Cell phones a must-have for kids
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Cell phones have become a must in nearly half of city pupils' school bags, while children's poor judgment of information brought by modern technology worries parents and educators, a latest survey shows.

The survey by researchers at Shanghai University's school of film and TV asked 534 primary school students, 139 teachers and 173 parents about their attitudes to media and its impact on children.

Researchers posed the question: What essential item would a pupil return to pick up at home after he had left for school?

Nearly 47 percent said a mobile phone, almost three times the number who chose cartoon books, the second highest choice.

Students choosing textbooks, however, accounted for only 7.5 percent among the children. The top choices were a cell phone, cartoon books, game machines and MP3 music players.

"The result strongly indicated new media and entertainment facilities have become the top schoolbag component choice among children born after the 1990s," said Ni Ling, a PhD student at SHU.

"These technologies are now seen as 'friends' to satisfy urban young kids' demands," she said in a report to a media literacy studies symposium held at Fudan University on Saturday.

The study also suggested pupils were equipped with poor judgment on media information.

Only 35 percent of pupils surveyed said they were able to recognize TV programs with real and fictional contents. They could not tell what was real among news, documentaries, TV series and entertainment programs.

But most parents would only shield children by shifting the channel when violent or pornographic scenes turned up on the screen, the survey reported.

Bu Wei, researcher with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said modern technology has had a deep impact on the younger generation. Media literacy education must teach youngsters how to make judgments and use media information correctly, said Bu.

Sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund, Fudan has started a media literacy program and published the country's first series of media literacy education books for youngsters.

(Shanghai Daily, December 10, 2007)

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