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Are You a Smartphone Addict? 手机控(shǒujīkòng)/低头族(dītóuzú)

Nov. 5, 2015

New technology is being developed every day, and the Chinese are always up-to-date on what’s hot, with the newest gadget in hand. People in China are especially obsessed with smartphones. Take a trip on a bus or the subway in any Chinese city and have a look around. Chances are everyone around you has their face glued to a smart phone screen, playing a game, sending text messages on WeChat (a popular social networking platform in China), or watching a video.


People who can’t go for more than a moment without checking their phones have a special name; we call them “手机控(shǒujīkòng).” In Chinese, “手机(shǒujī)” means “mobile phone” and “控(kòng)” refers to “an enthusiast” or an “extreme passion” for something.


Tiān ā! Dìtiě shàng de rén dōu shì shǒujīkòng!
天  啊!地铁上       的 人    都   是  手机控!
Wow! Everyone on this subway is a phone addict!

Nǐ yòu zài wán shǒujī? Nǐ zhēn shì gè shǒujīkòng!
你  又   在  玩   手机? 你  真     是  个 手机控!
You’re on your phone again? You’re such a phone addict!

The Chinese love social networking sites and apps as much as anyone, and one of the most popular in China is 微博 (wēibó), the Chinese version of Twitter. It sure is easy to get into the habit of constantly checking friends’ posts, following celebs, and posting your own updates. Can you guess what to call a Weibo addict in Chinese? Here’s a hint: think about what you learned to call a “phone addict” above. Find out what the correct answer is here.

Another way to talk about those who can’t put their phones down is “低头族(dītóuzú),” which essentially suggests that they are part of the “heads down group.” Get it? Their heads are always bent down, staring at their phone screen.


Kàn zhe wǒ, wǒ gēn nǐ shuōhuà ne! Nǐ zhēn shì míngfùqíshí de “dītóuzú”!
看   着    我,我 跟   你 说话       呢!你 真    是 名副其实    的  “低头族”!
Look at me when I’m talking to you! You really are part of the “heads down group”!

Phone addiction has truly become a serious issue. Not only do those who are always on their phones waste valuable time, but their obsession can also cause accidents because the user is not paying attention to their surroundings, shortened attention span, lack of social skills, and so on. As phone addiction becomes a real worry, we could say, “手机控也是一种病(shǒu jī kòng yě shì yìzhǒng bìng),” meaning phone addiction is a type of illness. Here, 病(bìng) means “illness” or “disease.”


So, what lesson can we take away from this? Put your phone down from time to time and strike up a conversation or read a book instead!


1. All of the following are ways to refer to someone who is always checking his or her phone except _____.
A. “病人(bìngrén)”
B. “手机控(shǒujīkòng)”
C. “低头族(dītóuzú)”

2. “手机控也是一种病(shǒujīkòng yě shì yìzhǒng bìng)” means ______.
A. A kind of disease related to the constant need to check one’s phone.
B. The phone user is ill because of radiation from his or her phone.
C. A person is depressed because he or she has no phone.

See Answer Analysis

Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)

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General Chinese (Beginner Level)

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