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China intends to restrict juveniles to a maximum of two hours per day on their phones.

China is proposing new regulations to limit the amount of time children and teenagers can spend on electronic devices as part of its efforts to combat internet addiction and instill “good morality” and “socialist values” in its young population.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s primary internet regulator, presented a proposal on Wednesday proposing that all Chinese mobile devices, apps, and app stores include a “minor mode” that limits daily screen time to no more than two hours per age group.

If passed, the limitations would represent an expansion of measures implemented in recent years by Beijing to limit screen time among children and prevent their exposure to “undesirable information.”

Under the proposed guidelines, which are up for public comment until September 2, online applications will automatically close when corresponding time restrictions are up for children and teens using devices in minor mode. In addition to this, “age-appropriate content” would be made available to them.

Between the hours of 10:00 pm and 6:00 am, users under the age of 18 will be unable to view their screens while in the mode.

Children under the age of eight would be limited to 40 minutes of daily screen use, while those aged 8–16 would be allotted one hour. Two hours would be allotted to those 16–18 years old.

After 30 minutes of screen time, people of all ages would get a notification telling them to take a break.

In addition to conveying “core socialist values” and “forging a sense of community of the Chinese nation,” the plan mandates that mobile ISPs provide material with these aims.

Parents would have the option to waive curfews, and medical and other essential services would be exempt.

An entire industry of boot-camp-style treatment facilities for “Internet addition” has sprung up in recent years, despite the fact that the efficacy of such programs is sometimes disputed scientifically and can even be deadly.

Defending their eyesight

Some of the parents who were polled seemed to be on board with the idea.

It’s good in my opinion. On the one hand, it can protect their eyesight, as many young children cannot resist viewing something they enjoy, said a mother of two in Zhejiang province, eastern China, who wished to remain anonymous.

The mother countered that “on the plus side,” parental oversight of their children’s screen usage was simpler for adults. The content in the minor mode is generally more upbeat and wholesome, according to the authors.

Some specialists in China attribute the high rate of myopia among the country’s youth to a lack of outside activity and an increase in indoor screen usage.

The China Internet Network Information Center estimates that 1.07 billion of China’s population of 1.4 billion have access to the internet, making China one of the countries with the highest per capita internet usage rates in the world. As of last December, roughly 20% of users were 18 or younger.

A father of two in the city of Zhuhai in southeastern China noted that youngsters occasionally use their parents’ accounts to play online games, suggesting that the success of the new planned measures may depend on buy-in from parents.

The rule might “help parents to supervise children” by reducing their time spent in front of screens.

He laughed, “Even us adults need it!”

Influence on tech enterprises

Because of their usual role in enforcing rules, IT corporations may find the new restrictions difficult to implement.

The idea is timed with the seeming end of a tough, years-long regulatory onslaught on China’s internet giants.

Following the release of the new regulations, shares of some of Hong Kong’s leading internet companies fell substantially by market close on Wednesday.

Tencent (TCEHY), the company behind the widely used messaging app Wechat, ended the day down nearly 3%. Bilibili (BILI), a video streaming app, fell 7%, while Kuaishou, a competitor, fell 3.5%. Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, closed with a loss of 4.8%.

All but Weibo were trading higher on Thursday, while the latter fell by approximately 1%.

Chinese authorities tightened restrictions on online gaming two years ago, making it illegal for anybody under the age of 18 to play during the week and limiting weekend play to only three hours.

In response to Beijing’s call for greater regulation, a number of internet firms at the time offered features that gave parents greater control.

In 2021, the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, implemented a “teenage mode” that restricted daily usage of the short-form video app to 40 minutes for users under the age of 14.

Similar functionality may be seen in Kuaishou, another well-liked video software.

In the past, people’s efforts have relied on users registering under their true names online. The authorities ordered all websites last year to check users’ IDs before letting them post comments or like content.

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