Youth in China embrace unique trend of becoming 'Full-Time Children' amidst job challenges

Due to a rise in the rate of unemployment in China, people have started trends like #FullTimeChildren where they get paid from their parents as they help in household chores.

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During the COVID-19 epidemic, youth unemployment has arisen as a major global issue. While some countries' employment rates improved when lockdown restrictions were lifted, others, like as China, continue to suffer issues as a result of the pandemic's economic growth hurdles. This has become a big concern for China, the world's second-largest economy, particularly after three years of "zero-Covid" regulations slowed growth significantly. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate among persons aged 16 to 24 reached a new high of 21.3% in June.

To deal with the difficult employment market and help their unemployed adult children, some Chinese parents have taken on the role of employers. They hire their children to do domestic tasks and give companionship, effectively paying them a salary at the end of the month.

This trend has given rise to hashtags like #FullTimeDaughter, #FullTimeSon, and #FullTimeChildren on social media platforms.

The #FullTimeChildren movement has spurred social media arguments about whether this "work at home" can be considered professional experience or not. Some say that it permits the unemployed to hide behind self-deprecation and denial, making it harder for them to confront their unemployment truthfully. The Chinese official media has framed this trend as a display of "filial piety," rewarding adult children for spending "quality time" with their parents. However, critics claim that the true issue is unemployment, and that the trend may impede young adults' appropriate integration into society, aggravating their odds of future employment.

Many full-time children, have shared their stories on social media. More than 4,000 people have convened on Douban, an IMDb-like site that allows people to join communities similar to Facebook groups, to talk about becoming full-time parents.

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Zhang stated, “My job is to spend time with my parents; for example, taking them to grocery stores and do some household chores. Also, if my parents want to go out, I would make plans in advance, taking them to various stores.”

A 36 year old wrote, "I like cooking, and I cook lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday for my family. My parents give me money without interfering with my life. I am extremely happy every day.”

Being a full-time daughter is not anyone's first choice. Their lives have been significantly impacted by China's highly competitive society and an economy that is rebounding from the pandemic more slowly than anticipated. Zhang said, “If my business had been very successful, I probably wouldn’t have become a full-time daughter. It is an involuntary decision, but it is an option.”

They'd all gotten nasty comments from acquaintances and online commentators accusing them of "chewing the old," a Chinese slang term for young people who rely completely on their parents for a living. Despite criticism, some full-time children regard this arrangement as a short-term solution to their unemployment. On the other side, this tendency has brightened the faces of many families and fostered healthy familial relationships, building strong bonds between parents and children.