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China introducing new measures to restrict the amount of time children and teenagers can spend on their phones, marking to combat internet addiction and promote “good morality” and “socialist values” among teen-agers. 

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s top internet regulator, has released a proposal that would require all mobile devices, apps, and app stores to include a built-in “minor mode” limiting daily screen time to a maximum of two hours, depending on the age group. If approved, these restrictions would expand on existing measures implemented in recent years as part of Beijing’s efforts to reduce screen time among children and minimize exposure to “undesirable information”. Under the draft rules, children and teen-agers using devices in slight mode would have online applications automatically close when their respective time limits are reached.

They would also be provided with “age-based content”. The proposed regulations stipulate that individuals under 18 would be unable to access their screens between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. while using the minor mode. Children under eight would be limited to 40 minutes of phone usage per day, while those between eight and 16 would have an hour of screen time. Teenagers aged 16 to 18 would be allowed a maximum of two hours. Additionally, all age groups would receive reminders to take breaks after using their devices for more than 30 minutes.

The proposal also calls for mobile internet service providers to actively create content that promotes “core socialist values” and fosters a sense of national community. However, parents would have the ability to override time restrictions, and certain educational and emergency services would be exempt from the limits. The potential effectiveness of these measures may depend on parental support and compliance, as children sometimes use their parents’ accounts to access online content. The regulations could assist parents in supervising their children’s screen time and setting limits.

The introduction of these new measures may pose challenges for tech companies, as they would be responsible for enforcing the regulations. The announcement of the proposed rules led to a decline in the Hong Kong-listed shares of several major Chinese internet firms. The Chinese government’s efforts to limit screen time among minors align with previous actions, such as restricting online gaming for individuals under 18 and implementing parental control measures. Platforms like Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) and Kuaishou have already introduced features to limit screen time for young users.

Overall, China’s proposal to limit minors to two hours of phone usage per day reflects its commitment to addressing internet addiction and promoting healthier online habits among young people.

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