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Old and online:China's aging internet explorers

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04/17/2018 | 05:27 am

Chen Jiahui, 85, registers and pays for treatment at a hospital in Changsha, Hunan province, using her smartphone in October. [Photo/Xinhua]

By the end of 2016, more than 230 million Chinese were older than 60, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The government predicts the country's elderly will account for about 25 percent of the population by 2030.

In an era of information accessibility, many elderly people are beginning to explore the internet to enrich their lives, with 98.5 percent using Tencent's WeChat messaging app.

About 70 percent make videos to share online, 40 percent use the internet to pay mobile phone bills and 30 percent shop online, according to a report by Tencent and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Many also know how to give money in virtual red envelopes-or hongbao-via WeChat.

"I had a video chat with my grandson yesterday," said Pan Xuelan, 60. "He looked fatter than last time."

Pan's daughter bought her a smartphone and taught her how to use WeChat.

"I chat with my family every week on WeChat," Pan said. "The internet truly makes life easier."

Elderly WeChat users have even created a series of special emojis, featuring various big characters and extremely bright colors. A report by Tencent said they are usually filled with "positive energy".

Such emojis, which carry traditional messages such as "Wish you every success!" and "Have a wonderful morning!", are considered dated by many young people, but appeal to some due to their retro feel.

"For every holiday, my mom sends me such emojis," said Chen Xiaojie, a teacher in Beijing. "For example, for New Year's Day, she sent me a spinning emoji with the Chinese characters for happy holidays."

(c) 2018 China Daily Information Company. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers

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