"Baby, r u OK? Take care. Miss u." Messages like this are flying through the air from one cell phone to another all over China.
Unofficial statistics show that of the 180 million subscribers to China Mobile, at least 55 million use short message service (SMS) as a means of communication.
In China, cell phone users send and receive 140 million short messages every day, of which many are letters between parents and their children.
Xu Jian, a resident in Hangzhou, capital of east China's relatively affluent Zhejiang Province, started using the SMS since his only son left for the northeastern Dalian city to work.
Xu, who had never before been so far from his son, would send messages asking his son to dress warmly when north China was hit by cold air. He also asked his son to bring his girlfriend home this Spring Festival by simply sending a short message through his cell phone.
His son, Xu Yiping, said he was surprised that his father of few words would like to write so much on the phone. He said he usually replied with "Yes" or "OK."
Apart from text messages, families are able to send color photos through their mobile phones. In October, China Mobile opened the multimedia message service (MMS) and phones with an integrated camera hit the market.
Many parents also use other electronic means such as ICQ, MSN and e-mail to communicate with their children.
Some software companies have catered for this group of people by developing more convenient typing software and easy access to Internet.
(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2002)