BEIJING: Responding to the mounting worry over internet addiction among children and teenagers, Chinese authorities have put in place new regulations.
Starting from September 2, individuals under the age of 18 will face restrictions on accessing the internet via smartphones between 10 pm and 6 am.
The regulations also include a tiered system to manage mobile usage time. Children aged eight years and under will be allowed a maximum of 40 minutes of internet access per day, while 16- and 17-year-olds can use their smartphones for up to two hours daily.
Proposed by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), these rules represent some of the most stringent measures globally. The primary objective is to control and regulate young people’s exposure to smartphones and the internet during specified hours, thereby curbing internet addiction among minors.
However, parents will have the option to bypass these restrictions if they desire to do so.
The CAC has stated that these regulations aim to “improve the positive role of the internet, create a favorable network environment, prevent and intervene in minors’ internet addiction problems, and guide minors to form good internet use habits.”
These measures build upon existing efforts to enhance online protection for minors, including ensuring age-appropriate content and reducing the influence of harmful information.
Over the years, Beijing authorities have taken significant steps to regulate the domestic tech sector, driven partly by concerns about the risks posed to young people by digital technology.
In 2021, China already limited gaming time for children in an attempt to combat addiction and also froze approvals of new games for nine months, impacting several companies, including Tencent, a major player in the sector.
The recent decision by the Chinese authorities indicates that their regulatory clampdown on domestic tech giants persists. In response to the CAC’s announcement, the stock prices of many leading Chinese internet firms experienced a decline. Tencent’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell by 3.0 percent, while Baidu, a web search, AI, and online services giant, saw its shares drop by 3.75 percent during trading in Hong Kong.