China's Version of TikTok Limits Under-14 Users to 40 Minutes a Day
The Chinese version of TikTok called Douyin will limit users under the age of 14 to 40 minutes of app use daily, its parent company ByteDance recently announced. Minors under 14 will only be able to access the app between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. This will apply to real-name authenticated users that belong to the aforementioned age group.
ByteDance encouraged parents to help their children complete real-name authentication or activate "youth mode" when instructed by the app to do so. Real-name authenticated users under 14 will automatically enter youth mode, where the time restraints will be imposed and where educational content can be found.
"In the youth mode, we have also prepared wonderful content for everyone, such as novel and interesting popular science experiments, exhibitions in museums and galleries, beautiful scenery across the country, explanations of historical knowledge, and so on. I hope that these contents can arouse children's interest in a certain field, and learn and gain something when watching the video," wrote ByteDance in a blog post.
This is a far cry from the measures ByteDance took in 2018, which included a feature that lets users voluntarily set a time limit restricting how long they can use the app every day.
Kuaishou, Douyin's main competitor in China, has its own version of youth mode but it is non-compulsory.
Douyin's change in policies happened amid China's crackdown on video games. In August 2021, the Chinese government restricted minors under the age of 18 to three hours of playing video games weekly in an effort to address video game addiction among the youth. Gaming platforms like Tencent and NetEase can only allow minors to play online games from 8-9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.
The frequency and intensity of inspections for online gaming companies will be escalated to enforce the time limit and other anti-addiction systems. The new policy is stricter than a 2019 rule that limited minors to 1.5 hours of gaming on any day and three hours on holidays.
With the technological crackdown continuing in China, it seems likely that more social media platforms will follow the trend of limiting how much time youths can spend on their apps.
Written by Sophia Lopez
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