'Are you happy?': Shanghai students surveyed

Chen Huizhi
Most young people say they're content, but lack of sleep, lack of exercise and parental beatings are causes for concern.
Chen Huizhi
Are you happy?: Shanghai students surveyed
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Primary school pupils in Shanghai attend school on a day in June.

Three out of four students in Shanghai answered a recent survey that they were “very” or “fairly” happy.

The survey was carried out by the city’s hotline for teenagers, 12355, and He Lingfeng, a psychology professor at Shanghai University of Sport, earlier this month among 770 students aged 7 to 18 from all Shanghai districts. The results of the survey were released on Tuesday.

He said the survey indicates that students are feeling happier now than at this time last year, which comes as a comfort to educators amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Moreover, 19 percent of students surveyed said their psychological health has improved “a lot” from last year.

The survey also shows that many students were not physically active enough and lacked sleep.

Three in four students surveyed said they did physical activity for less than one hour per day, with one in 10 confessing that they hardly ever did sports. China’s Ministry of Education suggests at least one hour of sports daily for students under 18 years old.

Half of students surveyed said they slept under eight hours per day, and 3 percent said they slept less than six hours per day. The ministry suggests that primary school students sleep nine to 10 hours each day, while middle school students should get eight hours.

About 30 percent of students said they used their mobile phones for over 2.5 hours a day.

In terms of what concerned them most, about 60 percent of students mentioned their grades; while 12 percent referred to relations with their parents. About 8 percent said they were most concerned about their body and looks. Three in 10 students surveyed said they were not satisfied with their weight.

Are you happy?: Shanghai students surveyed

Physical and verbal violence

The most shocking finding from the survey, according to He, is that about 70 percent of students said they had been beaten by their parents.

Nearly two-thirds of students surveyed said they had been hurt by comments from others in public; while 17 percent said the comments were from their parents, and 9 percent said they were from teachers.

Half of the students surveyed believed that they may have some psychological troubles. About one in five said they might have anxiety. Another one in five said they might have obsessive compulsive disorder, and 13 percent said they might have depression.

Most students were aware of psychological resources at their schools and via 12355, yet they still mostly turned to their parents, relatives or friends for support. One in five said they usually don’t seek any help, although most students surveyed were not biased against professional psychological services.

He, the psychology professor, recommends that educators and parents give children more time to sleep and do sports, which can help youngsters maintain mental health, study better and stay healthy.

Parents are also advised to refrain from physical and verbal abuse, especially in public, as these can cause lasting mental health problems, He said.

The 12355 hotline, now in its 15th year, has taken about 185,000 calls from the public, including many from parents.

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