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In China, heavy cell phone users are known as the ditouzu. This slang term roughly translates to the “heads-down crowd,” and describes the types whose heads stay glued to their screens in all situations: at work, on the subway—even in the bathroom.
Nonstop cell-phone use is a phenomenon not unique to China, though the country has seen its share of injuries from so-called “text neck,” the hunched posture required for marathon scrolling sessions.
TechNode visited one of the highest-tech areas in one of China’s highest-tech cities—the Huaqiangbei electronics market in Shenzhen—to ask Chinese cell phone users, “What are you doing on your phone?”
There were leisure users, like Zhang Qingna, a 36-year-old civil servant. She said she had been reading celebrity news about Hong Kong actor and singer Myolie Wu’s vacation in Malaysia.
Yang Xiaodong, a 45-year-old system analyst, said that he’d just been using his phone to play card games, and he’d won. “Just as you guys came I had very good luck,” he said.
Others were using their phones for more urgent tasks. Guixin Chen, 22, had just arrived in Shenzhen for a weekend trip and was looking for a place to sleep.
And others, naturally, were shopping. Guang Xu, 29, and Zhou Jie, 28, were researching a newly released sneaker, and Yu Hui, a 33-year-old bank administrative worker, was maneuvering a shopping rewards program.
All agreed that in today’s China, mobile access is a crucial part of daily life.
Jie said, “In the lives of people today, if they don’t have a phone, it’s not doable. Whenever I stop working, I think, ‘Is my phone there? Is it charged?’”
His friend, Xu, added, “You unconsciously pick it up and want to check it.”