One day during summer vacation, seven-year-old Guoguo started crying. Again. Mouth wide open, he screamed at the top of his lungs, tears rolling down his cheeks, his face contorted. It was the middle of the day, and his shrill cries echoed loud across a six-story residential building in a village near Taiyuan, capital of the northern Shanxi province.
But neighbors were unperturbed — for them, such a ruckus was routine. They knew well why Guoguo was throwing a tantrum: His parents had taken away the smartphone. Guoguo is from a working class family; his mother, Fang, 35, is a stay-at-home mom while his father, Liang, is a truck driver. He has a twin sister named Tangtang and a 12-year-old sister named Panpan.
Such is the popularity of short videos on mobile apps over the last few years that Fang says the twins became obsessed with smartphones even before learning to read. Guoguo can’t type yet but has worked out using voice input instead.