BEIJING, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Many Chinese parents say that time travel-themed books and TV series are extremely appealing to their children, but there is a growing concern about their influence on children's mental health.
Some children are reported to have mentioned their time travel fantasies in class essays and even on exam papers.
Parents say that children not only read and write time travel stories, but also discuss them with their peers and even try to find ways to actually travel through time.
As harmless as these time traveling fantasies may sound to children, parents have been frightened to discover "time travel guides" on the Internet. Such guides often instruct prospective time travellers to "run into a car, swallow some gold, jump off cliffs or take excessive amounts of sleeping pills," according to a China Youth Daily report on Monday.
"They are talking about death!" says Liu Liang, father of a teenage girl. Liu says that the time traveling theme makes potentially deadly advice "sound interesting and mythical".
But these supposedly humorous bits of advice had resulted in real-life tragedy.
A 12-year-old girl in Beijing who jumped off a building last year left behind a letter complaining about her school life and disclosed her wish to travel back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.), according to a newspaper report.
So why are kids so keen on time-traveling?
One reason might be the difficult lives that some of them lead. Liu's daughter spent a great deal of time working on academics, leaving her little time to herself. Schoolwork and an afterschool art program put a lot of pressure on her.
"Childhood has seemed to become boring," Liu says of his daughter's life. "I'm glad if my daughter reads books that she likes, but I'm afraid that she might become lost in unhealthy fantasies."
Hu Xueyan, a middle school teacher in southern Guangdong Province and a mother of a 11-year-old son, says "Excessive school pressure has encouraged children to pursue and find relief in time traveling fantasies."
"Kids need quality books but there are very few to choose," Hu says, adding that although classic literature has many redeeming qualities, it is often seen as boring or irrelevant to children's modern lives.
Hu says that inappropriate content on TV has also had a negative impact on young people.
Time travel-themed TV shows became popular and aroused heated discussions among the public after several TV dramas featuring time travel-centric plots were broadcast earlier this year.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China's film and television watchdog, issued a circular last month to discourage the broadcast of time travel-related shows, criticizing some productions for "advocating feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation."
A microblogger named "Danmoluqiang" says that some time travel dramas' plots are "totally absurd" and might "lead to a misunderstanding of history."
But others believe that dramas need to be entertaining. "It's for amusement," microblogger "aly-chen" writes.