China’s Child Screen Time Protections Could Hurt Social Media Giants

China’s Child Screen Time Protections Could Hurt Social Media

China’s internet regulator has introduced regulations to keep kids from spending too much time online.

The rules issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) amount to some of the toughest restrictions on internet use on the planet, Bloomberg reported Wednesday (Aug. 2), and could potentially be a blow to social media giants like Tencent and ByteDance.

The rules block “non-adult” children from accessing the internet from mobile devices from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., according to the report. In addition, the regulations limit children between 16 and 18 to two hours of mobile use. They also require platforms to offer lullabies for kids under 13 and educational news and entertainment for those under 12.

China has passed similar restrictions before, such as limits on online gaming, which state-sponsored media has called “spiritual opium,” per the report.

And while the CAC regulations don’t mention platforms by name, the report said Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Douyin — a cousin to its TikTok — are some of China’s most popular sites and attract a large number of minors.

Online safety has been among the concerns raised by lawmakers in the U.S. about the rise of TikTok in this country.

A hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in March — at which TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was questioned for several hours — was titled “TikTok: How Congress Can Safeguard American Data Privacy and Protect Children from Online Harms.”

As the name of the hearing implies, the company faces concerns about data privacy and security, with lawmakers introducing bills to protect Americans’ user data from being used by U.S. adversaries.

Meanwhile, PYMNTS wrote in June that ByteDance was working to become the new “everything app” in China, a title long held by WeChat.

“The company is also expanding its offerings to include food and grocery delivery in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, in a bid to capture a larger share of the Chinese market and challenge WeChat’s dominance as the go-to app for everything from messaging to shopping,” PYMNTS reported June 14.

WeChat is China’s only app with more than 1 billion active users and is one of only five apps in the world that have exceeded that number. Its WeChat Pay has more than 900 million users and has supplanted AliPay as the most popular payment service in China.