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China proposes to limit children’s tech use

Lawmakers have suggested requiring developers to create a special ‘minor mode’ that would set time limits on device and app use

Chinese legislators have proposed that a new system be created to limit the amount of time that those under the age of 18 can use their smartphones, according to a statement published by China’s cyberspace regulator on Wednesday. 

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it wants smart phone providers to introduce a ‘minor mode’ that would bar underage users from accessing the internet on their mobile devices from 10pm to 6am.

In their draft guidelines, the regulators also suggested limiting the amount of time minors can access the internet depending on their age. Users between 16 and 18 would be allowed two hours a day, children aged 8 to 16 would have one hour, and those under 8 would only be allowed 40 minutes of internet use per day.


The CAC added, however, that parents should have the option to opt out of the time limits for their children. It also said the system must allow certain smartphone functions during curfew hours, such as emergency calls, educational apps, or others approved by parents.

The rules also call on content providers to create a separate pool of videos and games for minors that “promote the core values of socialism” and the “traditional culture of China.”

Chinese tech companies have until September 2 to submit their feedback on the proposals, but it’s unclear when exactly the new rules would be implemented.

Investors, meanwhile, have already reacted, with shares in major Chinese tech firms slipping soon after the CAC guidelines were unveiled. Tencent was down 3%, and video services Bilibili and Kuaishou fell 7% and 3.5% respectively.


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Legal expert Xia Hailong also noted in a statement to Reuters that the proposed rules would require “a lot of effort and additional costs to properly implement,” which is why most internet companies will likely choose to outright prohibit minors from using their services.

The CAC’s new guidelines come two years after the Chinese authorities imposed a curfew for gamers under the age of 18, limiting them to just three hours of online games a week. The move was meant to counter the addictive qualities of video games and promote healthier lifestyles.

China was one of the first countries in the world to label ‘internet addiction’ as a clinical disorder that poses a threat to minors. Over the past decade, the Chinese government has launched several hundred boot camps designed to eradicate internet addiction by putting teenagers through military-style physical training.


August 03, 2023 at 06:18PM

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