Under pressure from Beijing, ByteDance decided to limit access to Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, for adolescents under the age of 14. It will highlight educational content for them.
Screen time for children and adolescents has become a major topic in China, spurred on by Beijing. At the end of August, video game publishers were forced by the administration to limit the playing time of under-18s to three hours per week, concentrated on the weekends. Sensing the wind of regulation coming on other connected leisure activities of Chinese youth, ByteDance decided to take the lead.
ByteDance has announced that children under 14 will now only be able to use Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese alter ego, for a maximum of 40 minutes per day. To preserve teenagers’ sleep time, access to the service will be blocked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Teens will see educational videos
Officially, these measures have been put in place to protect adolescents from screen addiction and exposure to harmful content. ByteDance will therefore push educational videos like “popular science experiences, visits to museums, the discovery of the country’s landscapes, educational videos on history … we hope that these contents will be able to arouse the interest of children and that they will learn things there», Wrote ByteDance in a press release. “Yes, we are getting stricter with teenagers. But we will work harder to provide high quality content so that young people can learn and experience the world on Douyin.“
Douyin already allowed parents of teenagers to limit access time to the application. This “Young FashionIs now mandatory and it is impossible to waive it. However, the college student must be connected to Douyin under his real identity. ByteDance does not indicate how it intends to flush out the smart guys who will go to Douyin with the connection codes of an accomplice brother or cousin. Video game publishers are forced to use facial recognition to ensure that the person behind the smartphone screen is of full age.
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Moralize youth leisure
These new rules come into force while the tech sector is in the sights of the central government. A rain of new regulations has been falling in recent months on the players in this industry, which has been able to develop at high speed without real control. Beijing intends to put an end to excesses, whether it be anti-competitive practices or the difficult working conditions of home meal deliverers.
At the same time, the Chinese government has put a stop to the very lucrative private sector of evening classes, in order to protect schoolchildren from cramming but also to free parents from a heavy financial burden – and thus encourage them to have more children. This movement is accompanied by the will to “moralize»Youth recreation.
This therefore involves reducing the time devoted to video games, but also by the desire to put down the cult of celebrities. Specifically targeted are “vulgar influencers“, Effeminate pop stars, and personalities who have”lost all morality“. Chinese televisions are encouraged to broadcast cultural programs instead. By pushing educational videos to under-14s rather than jokes from young influencers, ByteDance makes it clear that he has perfectly assimilated the new priorities of power.