China Cracks Down on Children’s Internet Use
In an effort to reduce youth internet addiction and screen out potentially harmful content, China’s internet watchdog has issued new draft regulations that set limits on how much time minors can spend online. The guidelines, which came into effect on Aug. 03, 2023, are the latest blow to companies like Tencent and ByteDance which have established the largest social media and gaming platforms in China.
Under the new guidelines, minors are not allowed to use most internet services from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., 8 to 15-year olds can use the internet for one hour a day, while 16- to 18-year-olds can spend two hours a day. Those under 8 are limited to only 40 minutes of online use.
To limit children’s online time, the country has also enacted Youth Modes that reduce the type of content available as well as the length of time that a child can spend using the service. Beijing is also pushing for more educational content such as science experiments.
With the new restrictions, companies like Tencent and ByteDance may have to invest in ways to make the regulations more enforceable, especially as they are also expected to screen for potentially harmful content.
Overall, the move is an effort to reduce the growing prevalence of internet addiction among the country’s youth, including reducing the hours spent playing internet games. Currently, the draft guidelines are open to public feedback until Sep. 2, and it is yet to be seen when the rules will come into effect.
Ultimately, the new restrictions could be a boon for children’s wellbeing in the long run. Allowing children more freedom to enjoy online activities responsibly while curbing online addiction and inappropriate content is the goal of the new regulations.