Tencent, ByteDance Face Challenges as China Limits Kids’ Mobile Use
In a significant move, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has announced strict regulations aimed at reducing excessive smartphone usage by minors, Bloomberg reports.
The new rules, published on the agency’s website, are some of the most stringent restrictions on internet use worldwide and have raised concerns about online addiction among children.
The draft of rules specifies that “non-adult” children will be prohibited from accessing the internet on mobile devices between 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. Additionally, youngsters between the ages of 16 and 18 will be limited to a maximum of two hours of mobile usage per day.
Since 2021, Beijing has been actively working to ease the burden on minors and their families while addressing what it perceives as social issues. This has included imposing restrictions on online gaming for kids and declaring for-profit after-school tutoring illegal.
Leading social media companies Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Douyin, a TikTok-like platform, are immensely popular among Chinese users, including a large number of minors.
While the CAC didn’t name these services, it did say that such platforms will be responsible for ensuring they meet the new requirements.
New requirements involve promoting lullabies for children under 3 and providing educational news and entertainment content for those under 12. Some Chinese apps, including Douyin, already have restrictions in place for minors, but the extent of their application and enforcement is unclear.
The new regulations are currently open for public feedback and may be subject to change based on the response they receive.