GUANGZHOU – Cheng Dongwei looked disappointed when his mother once again told him on QQ chat: “No, you can’t go out until I get home this evening.”
A minute before, the 11-year-old boy had used the instant-messaging service to ask: “Can I go to the cinema with my classmates, mom? I’ve finished my homework for the day.”
“My mother never lets me go out, and I get bored at home,” said Cheng, a 5th grade student in a primary school in Guangzhou’s Tianhe district, on Tuesday.
“I have been staying at home with my grandmother since August,” he said. “And every time when I want to go out, my mother always says, ‘No’.”
Since the summer holiday began in mid-July, “I’ve done nothing every day except my homework, surfed the Internet and chatted with my classmates on QQ,” he said.
Cheng’s mother, Liang Xiaoyun, a white-collar worker, said she will not let her son go out because she fears for his safety.
“I know my son feels lonely at home during the summer holidays,” she said. “But what can I do? My husband and I have to work from Monday to Friday.”
Liang, 39, said she has taken her son to the movies or scenic spots every weekend this summer.
Liang said many of her son’s classmates must also stay at home, watching television or surfing the Internet during the holidays, and some parents do not even allow their children to play computer games or watch TV, or restrict the amount of time they can spend doing those things.
According to a recent survey by the local women’s federation, more than 90 percent of the students in urban primary schools spend summer holidays surfing the Internet and watching TV in their homes.
The long summer holiday, which goes from mid-July to the end of this month, has increased the demand for the services offered by local child-care centers and kindergartens.
A staff member at the Tongxing Children Care Center in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district said the center now has attracted more than 20 children who are between the ages of six and 12.
“The figure was 10 before the summer vacation,” said the staff member, who did not want to be named.
The center charges parents 1,200 yuan ($186) a month to take care of a child. In addition to lunch, it supplies teachers who help the children with homework.
“Most of the kids who are primary school pupils living nearby usually arrive in the center at about 8 am and leave at 5:30 pm,” said the staff member.
“Many similar centers in downtown areas have also seen a brisk business since the summer holiday began,” she added.
Experts said parents should find more time to be with their children and should encourage them to pursue their own interests during long summer holidays.
In addition to going to painting and piano classes, children can go out to experience life in the countryside. That will let them to spend more time with friends or learn more about society, they said.