TikTok Maker limits screen time for young people in China

HONG KONG — In the latest move to cut screen time for young Chinese users, Bytedance Ltd., the maker of the successful TikTok mobile app, has said it will restrict access to Douyin, the version Chinese application, 40 minutes per day for users under 14 years old.

Douyin’s “youth mode”, which follows the imposition of new limits on the access of young Chinese users to online video games, will restrict those under 14 to using the application between 6 am and 10 pm. The application will be inaccessible to all users of this age group. outside of these hours.

Douyin had introduced some of the features as of 2018, but on an optional basis. The measures would apply to all users registered under their real names and as being under the age of 14, Douyin said on Saturday.

He said the mandatory measures were designed to protect young users from harmful content. In that vein, Douyin’s 40 minutes a day for young users will now serve as uplifting content such as science experiments, museum exhibits and history lessons, the company said.

To facilitate law enforcement, Douyin called on parents to register their children with their real names and ages.

The new restrictions come as the Chinese government seeks to subdue the country’s largest internet companies, accusing them of violating antitrust, data security and labor rules.

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At the same time, the ruling Communist Party has increasingly portrayed itself as a guardian of morality for the younger generation, cracking down on after-school tutoring and stressing the need to quell what it calls an obsession with unhealthy celebrity culture.

In June, Beijing revised its law on protecting minors, requiring digital content providers to implement time management tools, restrict certain features and limit purchases for users under the age of 18.

China last month released tough new measures to curb what authorities have called video game addiction among young people by limiting play time to three hours per week for most of the year.

Douyin’s main national rival, Kuaishou Technology‘s

namesake app, began offering a similar, though optional, ‘youth mode’ feature in 2019, providing preselected age-appropriate content and limiting daily use of the app to a maximum of 40 minutes between 6 hours and 22 hours. Kuaishou is backed by Chinese tech giant Tencent Avoirs Ltd.

Tencent’s WeChat, the ubiquitous instant messaging service in China, also offers an optional “youth mode” that prevents users from accessing certain games as well as the app’s payment function.

TikTok, Douyin’s international counterpart, last month released a number of measures to address privacy and security concerns for young users, for example by setting accounts for users under the age of 16 as default and allowing parents to guide the use of their children with a pairing. function.

Write to Sha Hua at [email protected]

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