Editor's note: Some senior citizens were recently criticized for competing with youths for a basketball court where they wanted to practice square dancing, and some others were accused that their loud music disturbed students on the eve of the national college entrance exam. Following are the views of four experts on the issue:
More facilities needed to meet residents' needs
If the government builds more public facilities for community residents, there will be no competition for playgrounds between senior citizens and youths.
Conflicts between the elderly and the youth have become common because of limited public infrastructure and amenities. As such, how to scientifically use the existing public facilities and build new ones to meet the rising demand are real challenges for local governments.
Open spaces in front of some supermarkets or parking lots can be used for people's recreational activities toward late evenings when the numbers of shoppers and vehicles drop drastically. Of course, those using the open spaces should promise not to cause any damage to the sites. Also, such an arrangement will shift the square dancers from residential communities, where the noise they generate can be nuisance for many.
Meng Yanchun, professor at the School of Public Policy &Management, Tsinghua University
Not wrong to charge people for using public facilities
The absence of rules, not the lack of public spaces, is the cause of the competition for playgrounds and "dancing floors". The local authorities are trying to find a solution to this problem, but simply making available more open space for such activities won't work until the young and the old both start following the rules.
In Shanghai, for example, some social organizations are providing such public services, in order to ensure that square dancing does not affect normal community life.
If some groups or individuals continue violating the rules, regulators should impose higher fines on them until they fall in line. Also, it's not wrong to make residents pay for using playgrounds and parks, especially if such sites attract conflicting parties that could lead to arguments, even violence, to maintain public order.
Gu Jun, professor in the Department of Sociology and Political Science, Shanghai University
Strengthen social support network to ease pressure
Square dancing has become popular among senior citizens partly because of China's rapid economic development and rising aging population. Square dancing is just one form of recreation for senior citizens. Conflicts between the youth and senior citizens can be avoided if more recreational avenues are made available to senior citizens.
According to sociology theory, social support is related to the perception and actuality that one is cared for, has assistance available from other people, and that one is part of a supportive social network. These supportive resources can be emotional, tangible, informational or companionship.
In this regard, closer connection built through group recreations may help senior citizens get mutual assistance, which could fill some gaps left by home-based care for the aged. Statistics show that 96 percent of the elderly in China rely on family members' support, and middle-aged people usually use all their savings to provide for their families and take care of their children. So strengthening the community social support network might help ease their burdens and leave them with enough money to pay for their recreational activities.
Diao Pengfei, associate research fellow at the Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Young netizens should cease to be biased
We often hear news about senior citizens misbehaving with other people. But such news are becoming common also because, compared with senior citizens, youths are much more adept at using social media. Indeed, youths have a much louder say in cyberspace.
Besides, the views of some youths are blatantly biased against the elderly. For instance, some say that generally senior citizens are capricious and prone to take advantage of their age. They even mock senior citizens by saying square dancing is outdated.
It's time the youth and the aged learned to respect each other.
ZhuHongjun, deputy director of the editorial office at the Institute of Journalism and Communication, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences