Flowers or local snacks used to be popular gifts for Chinese parents, but in today’s digital world, more and more Chinese youth are turning to the Internet to buy goods and services for their loved ones.
Guo Tong, 26, purchases nearly everything online ranging from snacks to cosmetics and clothes for her mother who lives in the city of Qinhuangdao, north China’s Hebei Province, around 290 km away from Beijing where Guo works.
“I bought a bouquet of flowers and a pair of earrings for my mother’s 49th birthday. It is convenient to express my love to my parents with the help of the Internet when I cannot be with them,” Guo said.
Guo is just one of many utilizing the web to send gifts. Shopping online for moms and dads has become a new phenomenon in the country where the number of online shoppers hit 610 million as of December 2018, up 14.4 percent year on year.
“Our generation grew up in the internet era, and now we can look after our parents using it, which represents an inevitable trend in social development,” a Chinese netizen said.
Back in February 2018, Taobao, China’s leading online shopping platform, announced the launch of a new feature called “Family Accounts,” connecting all family members in one account to make payment much easier.
Up till now, over 7.5 million people have bonded their accounts to those of their mothers. Children can use their own money to purchase items picked out by their parents. Meanwhile, elderly parents can quickly contact their offsprings via hyper-accessible family chat windows in the accounts.
As a user of this family service, Guo said that technology has created a new way for Chinese people to show love to their family members, as most Chinese are not good at using fancy words to express themselves.
One week before Mother’s Day in May, users who purchased the physical examination package for middle-aged and elderly people on Ali Health platform accounted for 35 percent of all physical examination service purchasers, an increase of 14 percent year on year, said the Ali Health, Alibaba’s healthcare subsidiary.
For those who live far from their hometowns, returning home for holidays can be a challenging and often expensive ordeal.
“I miss my parents so much, but it is not easy for me to ask too much leave from work,” Guo said. “Life in Beijing is always busy.”
Li Ketian, a university student in the city of Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, echoes her view.
“This month, I was so busy with my thesis defense and graduation preparation, so choosing a gift online for my mother on Mother’s day was the best solution,” he said.
As an increasing number of Chinese youth move to bigger cities or even foreign countries for study and work, the Internet bridges the distance between migrant children and their parents.
Zhang Baoyi, head of the Institute of Sociology under the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, said online shopping provides a new way for people to express their love and filial piety, a virtue in traditional Chinese culture, to their parents.
“Although gifts from far away are good choices, for elderly and lonely parents, nothing is more important than children’s company,” Zhang said.