China is considering imposing new restrictions on the use of smartphones by children and teenagers, in an effort to curb internet addiction and promote healthy development. China proposes new rules, which were released by the country’s top internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), on Wednesday, would require all mobile devices, apps and app stores to have a special “minor mode” that would limit screen time, filter content and block access during certain hours12.
China Proposes new rules: Two-Hour Daily Limit.
According to the draft regulations, which are open for public feedback until September 2, children under the age of eight would be allowed to use their smartphones 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 permitted two hours. No one under 18 would be able to access their screens between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. while using the minor mode12.
The minor mode would also provide age-appropriate content for different groups of users. For example, children under three would be shown songs and audio-focused content, while those between 12 and 16 would be exposed to educational and news content. The CAC also urged online firms to create content that “disseminates core socialist values” and “forges a sense of community of the Chinese nation”12.
The CAC said that the proposed rules are aimed at “protecting the physical and mental health of minors” and “preventing them from indulging in online games, online audio-visual programs and other internet services”1. The CAC also said that the rules are based on scientific research and international best practices, as well as feedback from parents, experts and industry representatives1.
Teens between 16 and 18 will be restricted to two hours of mobile usage each day.
The proposed rules are part of China’s broader crackdown on the internet sector, which has seen regulators impose stricter regulations on online platforms, especially those that target young users. In 2021, China introduced a regulation that limited online gaming time for minors to three hours per week3. Earlier this year, China also banned private tutoring companies from offering online courses during weekends and holidays4.
Some parents interviewed by CNN expressed support for the proposed rules, saying that they would help protect their children’s vision and make it easier for them to control their screen time habits2. However, some experts have questioned the effectiveness and feasibility of the rules, as well as their potential impact on children’s rights and privacy5.
It is unclear when the proposed rules will be finalized and implemented. In the meantime, parents who rely on smartphones to keep their children entertained and educated may have to look for other alternatives or monitor their devices more closely.