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Bu Wei described the Chinese context, where 195 million users are urban children and there are 61.5 million rural users; 20.7 million on average go online weekly; and 38 per cent of the total child population are rural children and young people left behind by one or both of their parents. About four out of every 10 children in China are affected by migration. It affects mostly rural children and young people with serious consequences; most drop out of school or lack any social or family support. However, internet use statistics show a growing trend, particularly among urban children, who spend on average 20.7 hours per week online. Access and use differ starkly between urban and rural children and young people. Efforts to use digital devices and social media for social support include ‘Baby Come Back Home’, an internet project launched by NGOs to help trafficking victims find their parents. To raise awareness of this issue, UNICEF developed a documentary, ‘Stories through 180 lenses’, for and by left-behind children. The ‘1kg More’ project encourages urban children and young people to carry an additional 1kg in their backpack when travelling to rural areas to help rural children (carrying textbooks, etc.). While research is not a main focus, these projects serve to highlight a digital divide, not just in access, but also in resources, information and languages. While a majority of urban children in China fully participate in the digital age, most rural children do not have access to the internet and other new ICTs. Policy and programming interventions tend to prioritise urban children and new ICTs.
Bu Wei also reported on sampling issues when studying migrant children. She recommended content analysis of information used by children to better understand their use patterns and experiences. Pairing research with participatory action, Wei invited participants to consider how new mobile technologies can address the needs of migrant children.