A recent survey has found children today are not as happy as kids who grew up in previous generations, with society and weighty expectations from parents the causes of their melancholy.
A total of 53.2 percent of the 11,754 people who responded to the survey, which was conducted by the China Youth Daily and published by the newspaper yesterday, agreed children growing up today have it tougher.
Just over 11 percent of surveyed adults said they did not have happy childhoods, far fewer than children today.
Nearly 58 percent of respondents said they had children of their own.
Over 78 percent of all those surveyed agreed that society as a whole is responsible for the situation.
About 51 percent said parents are responsible, while 44.3 percent believed schools are also liable.
"Academic pressure and parents' thirst for their children's success are the two major causes of unhappy childhoods," said Huang Hongji, a child study expert at Shanghai Normal University.
A total of 71.1 percent said that having little spare time due to too much schoolwork and after-school tutoring is a main contributor to the children's depression.
"Parents' excessive demands" are also seen as leading factors, according to the poll conducted by the newspaper.
Sun Hongyan, a researcher at the Beijing-based China Youth and Children Research Center, said her team surveyed more than 200 primary and secondary school students in Beijing and East China's Zhejiang Province, and found that even the children who claimed to be happy are not enjoying true happiness.
When asked what happiness is, most children answered that "getting good grades," "having friends" and "having free time" made them happiest.
Lu Zhi, a children's literature author, said that parental stress could be a reason for their children's negative emotions.
Most people surveyed believe that the lack of a lighthearted childhood may affect children's physical and mental well-being in their future, leading to an aversion to learning and hamper their curiosity and independent thinking.