China Proposes 40-Minute Internet Time Limit for Children

The Chinese government is proposing strict new limits on internet access using mobile devices for anyone under the age of 18.

As Bloomberg reports(Opens in a new window), a new set of regulations(Opens in a new window) (translated) compiled by the Cyberspace Administration of China suggests a time limit of between 40 minutes and two hours per day based on the age of the child. The time limit would apply to access on smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, “early education machines,” and any other mobile devices that “have operating systems” and can have software/apps installed and run by the user.

If the regulations come into force following a public consultation, children under the age of eight would only be allowed to access the internet using mobile devices for 40 minutes per day. Children aged between eight and 15 would be limited to one hour, while 16 and 17-year-olds would be limited to two hours. Every 30 minutes, a rest reminder is also required to pop-up on a device.

On top of that, access to the internet using these device would be prohibited between 10pm and 6am every day. There’s also guidelines for what type of content should be recommended to children within those same age categories.

There are content exceptions to these time limit restrictions. They include approved educational content and services, products that promote mental and physical development, emergency products and services that allow for personal safety, and any apps classed as exempt from parental custom settings.

If you’re wondering what happens when the specified time limit is reached, the regulations state that the mobile device should “automatically close other applications except for specific necessary applications and parent-defined exempt applications.”

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Anywhere else in the world such restrictions would be hard to enforce, but internet-connected services in China typically require real-name registration to use. It should therefore be relatively easy to keep track of time usage per individual, per day across multiple products and services.

The Chinese authorities have been slowly imposing more limits on access to online services by children, and in particular entertainment products. Back in 2018, online gaming access was limited in order to save the eyesight of children. Then in 2021, kids were banned from playing online games Monday through Thursday, and last year, children were banned from watching live streams after 10pm.

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