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China Proposes Strict Smartphone Usage Limits for Children.
China’s Cyberspace Administration made a significant announcement on Wednesday, proposing new regulations that aim to limit smartphone usage for children under the age of 18. The regulator emphasized the importance of protecting young minds from excessive exposure to digital devices and the internet.
Under the proposed reforms, smart device manufacturers would be required to implement “minor mode” programs, which would restrict access to the internet on mobile devices for users under 18 from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Additionally, service providers would have to set time limits for different age groups. Specifically, teenagers between 16 and 18 years old would be allowed a maximum of two hours per day, children aged eight to 16 would be restricted to one hour, and youngsters under eight years old would only be allowed eight minutes of screen time daily.
However, in a nod to parental discretion, the CAC suggested that service providers should grant parents the option to bypass these time limits for their children. While this move is aimed at promoting responsible usage of smartphones and curbing potential internet addiction, it has raised concerns among investors.
Following the publication of the draft guidelines, shares in Chinese tech companies experienced a sharp decline during afternoon trade in Hong Kong. Leading platforms like Bilibili and Kuaishou saw their stocks drop by 6.98% and 3.53%, respectively, while Tencent Holdings, the operator of the popular social network app WeChat, experienced a 2.99% decrease.
According to Reuters, lawyer Xia Hailong from the Shanghai Shenlun law firm commented on the potential impact of the new regulations on internet companies, stating that implementing these requirements could be a challenging and costly endeavor. Non-compliance could also pose significant risks, prompting many internet companies to consider outright banning minors from using their services.
The Chinese government’s mounting concern about the adverse effects of excessive smartphone usage and internet addiction among young people is not new. In 2021, a curfew was imposed on video game players under the age of 18, significantly impacting gaming giants like Tencent. Video-sharing platforms like Bilibili, Kuaishou, and ByteDance have already implemented “teenage modes” since 2019 to restrict content access and usage duration for young users. ByteDance’s app Douyin, akin to TikTok, strictly limits teenagers to 40 minutes of usage.
These latest proposed rules follow a series of regulatory measures taken by Beijing in the technology sector. The Chinese government has indicated a shift toward supporting the growth of tech giants after a prolonged period of stringent regulatory actions.
The draft guidelines are currently open to public feedback until September 2nd, after which they will likely be finalized and implemented, with potential implications for the tech industry and the well-being of China’s young population.
Topics: Smartphone restrictions for under-18s in China, new regulations on smartphone usage for minors in China, impact of China’s smartphone curfew on tech industry, parental control apps for managing smartphone time, addressing smartphone addiction in young users, China’s digital detox measures for children, smartphone time limits for kids in China, how tech stocks react to China’s under-18 smartphone restrictions