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China to restrict smartphone, internet use for youth

In 2021, China capped amount of gaming time for children with stated aim of fighting addiction

By Web Desk
August 02, 2023
A child uses a smartphone in this representational image. — AFP/File
A child uses a smartphone in this representational image. — AFP/File

BEIJING: Authorities in China have introduced new rules to tackle internet addiction among children and teenagers.

Individuals under 18 will be restricted from accessing the internet on their smartphones between 10pm to 6am starting from September 2.

In addition to this, a tiered system will be applied to manage mobile usage time, with a maximum allowance of 40 minutes per day for children aged eight years and under, and up to two hours for 16- and 17-year-olds.

The new regulations, proposed by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), are among the most stringent in the world and aimed at controlling and regulating young people's exposure to smartphones as well as the internet during specified hours.

Parents, however, will be able to bypass them if they wish.

The CAC said the rules would "improve the positive role of the internet, create a favourable network environment, prevent and intervene in minors' internet addiction problems, and guide minors to form good internet use habits".

The measures would build upon existing efforts to strengthen the online protection of minors, it added, including by "enriching age-appropriate content" and reducing "the influence of bad information".

Beijing authorities have pursued expansive regulation of the domestic tech sector in recent years, due in part to concerns over the risk posed to young people by digital technology.

In 2021, China capped the amount of gaming time for children with the stated aim of fighting addiction, and froze approvals of new games for nine months, hammering the bottom lines of many companies including sector titan Tencent.

And Wednesday's decision suggests Beijing´s regulatory clampdown on domestic tech giants continues.

Stocks of many leading Chinese internet firms fell Wednesday following the CAC's announcement, with Tencent's Hong Kong-listed shares down 3.0 percent.

Meanwhile, web search, AI, and online services giant Baidu saw its shares fall 3.75 percent during trading in Hong Kong.

— Additional input by AFP