China To Limit Time Kids Use Smartphones

Authorities in Beijing are proposing new measures to curb the use of technology by children and teenagers in China.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s internet regulator, on Wednesday proposed new rules that would require all mobile devices, apps and app stores to have a built in “minor mode” that would restrict daily screen time to a maximum of two hours a day, depending on the age group.

This is not the first time that China has sought to clamp down on tech use by children as it seeks to tackle internet addiction.

Smartphone use

But the new proposals, which if approved would signal an expansion of existing measures rolled out in recent years, as Beijing aims to limit screen time among kids and reduce their exposure to what it deems “undesirable information,” CNN reported.

The draft rules are open for public discussion until 2 September, and propose that children and teens using devices on minor mode would automatically see online applications close when respective time limits are up.

They would also be offered “age-based content.”

No one under 18 would be able to access their screens between 10pm and 6am while using the mode.

CNN reported that children under eight would be able to use their phones for only 40 minutes a day, while those between eight and 16 would get an hour of screen time.

Teenagers over 16 and under 18 would be allowed two hours.

All age groups would receive a reminder to rest after using their device for more than 30 minutes.

Mobile internet service providers should also actively create content that “disseminates core socialist values” and “forges a sense of community of the Chinese nation,” the draft proposals reportedly state.

Parents would be able to override time restrictions, and certain educational and emergency services would not be subject to the time limits.

Gaming crackdown

The Chinese government in recent years has cracked down on the use of tech, especially concerning children.

In August 2021 the Chinese media watchdog (the National Press and Publication Administration or NPPA) imposed tough rules governing how much time children in that country could play video games.

It limited online gamers under the age of 18 from playing on weekdays, and restricted them to playing online to just three hours most weekends.

This was at the time a significant escalation of the restrictions on the country’s massive gaming industry, as well as the country’s youngsters.

Prior to that, children in China had been restricted by the NPPA in 2019, to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends.

But last November the Chinese government claimed its measures had solved the gaming addiction problem.

And in March 2023 in another sign that its crackdown on gaming industry is easing, the Chinese game regulator approved 27 foreign games for domestic release.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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