China proposes to limit children's phone usage to maximum of two hours a day

Children under 8 would only be allowed to use smartphones for 40 minutes a day under the draft guidelines. Credit: Pixabay

China's internet watchdog has laid out rules to cut down on the amount of time children spend on their smartphones.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published the draft guidelines on Wednesday, which include children being unable to use most internet services on mobile phones between 10pm and 6am.

Teenagers aged between 16 and 18 would only be able to use the internet for two hours a day, whereas children between the ages of 8 and 15 would only be allowed an hour. Those under 8 would be limited to 40 minutes.

Apps and platforms deemed suitable to a child's physical and mental development would be exempt - but the CAC did not specify particular internet services.

The rules are Beijing's latest efforts to tackle internet addiction, a problem China sees as widespread among its youth.

In 2019, China limited children’s daily online game time to 90 minutes a day and tightened those restrictions in 2021, allowing children only an hour a day of online game play on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.

Short-video and online video platforms like Douyin, Bilibili and Kuaishou have offered youth modes that restrict the type of content shown to young people and the length of time they can use the service.

Children are also pushed educational content, such as science experiments.

The draft guidelines are open to public feedback until 2 September.

It did not say when the new rules would be in effect.

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