lørdag 30. mars 2024

Starved of Affection at Home, Young Chinese Seek Out ‘Digital Parents’

Fan Xiaotong, a middle school student from Shanghai, likes to share everything with her parents. Whenever she feels stressed about a math test, or eats a tasty snack, the 13-year-old will pull out her phone and send a message to her mom and dad. The couple she is contacting, however, aren’t really her biological family. In fact, Fan, who spoke to Sixth Tone using a pseudonym to protect her privacy, doesn’t even know their real names. They are a pair of parenting influencers that she follows on China’s version of TikTok, Douyin.

Fan has become a massive fan of the influencers; so much so that she has come to view them as her “digital parents.” For the teenager, the couple embody a positive, affectionate style of parenting — the kind she has never experienced at home.