Briefing: China requiring anti-addiction parental controls for all short video apps

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短视频平台试点防沉迷系统:每天限40分钟 禁打赏 – Xinhua

What happened: China’s internet watchdog will require all major short video platforms in China to roll out “anti-addiction” parental controls by the end of May. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has been testing the system on popular short video apps such as Bytedance’s Douyin, Huoshan Short Video, and Tencent-backed Kuaishou. The system allows parents to turn on a “youth mode” feature that restricts minors to 40 minutes of use per day and disables gift-giving or account top-up activity.

Why it’s important: Chinese regulators are becoming increasingly vigilant about the amount of screen time minors are exposed to, a topic that is bearing increasing scrutiny across the globe. A recent New York Times article correlating poverty with higher screen time echoes realities in China. State media (in Chinese) said last year that “left-behind children,” or those who stay behind in rural areas while their parents work in big cities, were especially obsessed with online entertainment. However, apps in China are not barred from collecting personal information from minors, whereas apps are forbidden in the US to collect data users under the age of 13 without parental consent.