China proposes strict rules to curb Internet-addicted minors

Chinese minors face tough restrictions on mobile phone and internet use as part of the country’s latest attempt to curb perceived internet addiction. Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published draft regulations on Wednesday that would introduce a “lesser mode” (according to a machine translation) on devices like smartphones, tablets and watches that would limit access to content and device usage based on the child’s age.

For example, teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 will be limited to two hours of mobile use each day under the draft rules. All devices running “minor mode” – regardless of the child’s age – will be prohibited from accessing the Internet between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM. Some of these restrictions can be manually bypassed by parents. The CAC says online platforms will be responsible for enforcing the new requirements, although no specific penalties were mentioned for companies that do not comply.

Previously, rules put in place to restrict online gambling required registrations with real names to restrict access

As noted by Bloombergthese rules could be a blow to the massively popular platforms such as Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Douyin (the Chinese counterpart to TikTok). Tencent already had to support the introduction of time limits on online gambling for minors back in 2021 to curb similar fears of addiction. According to Bloombergcompanies in China use real-name registrations to comply with access restrictions.

China’s proposed rules bear similarities to bills introduced in US states such as Louisiana, Utah and Arkansas that aim to limit children’s access to the Internet and social media. The CAC is currently soliciting public feedback on the proposals, with a deadline set for September 2.

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