China to implement new restrictions on children's smartphone use

Just when it looked like China legislation was opening up, new moves to restrict the market are afoot

China to implement new restrictions on children's smartphone use

The Cyberspace Administration of China has unveiled new regulations in its attempts to curb online addiction, reports Bloomberg. Just when the volume of games licences have been increasing, the authorities have once more returned to further limiting the use of apps by children.

Among other restrictions imposed by the administration, consumers between 16 and 18 will be restricted to a maximum of two hours of mobile usage per day, while “non-adult” children will be banned from the internet between the hours of 10 PM and six AM.

The move comes in the wake of the country’s imposition of new limits on online gaming last year. As part of these rules, users below the age of eighteen are limited to one hour of gaming, three times a week. The country hopes that these moves will promote healthier activities, having previously referred to gaming as “spiritual opium”.

“To strengthen protection of minors, in past years, the CAC has continued to push the construction of an internet model for youths, expanded its reach, improved its functions and enriched age-appropriate content,” said the agency. “They’ve had a positive impact in lessening youth internet addiction and curbing the impact of undesirable information.”

The move will come as a blow to the many mobile gaming giants with social media interests. For example, Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s Douyin are both popular in the country, with high numbers of minors among their users.

Bold moves

The new regulations will also impose new rules regarding the content available on affected platforms. This includes the promotion of educational content to users below 12, and lullabies for those below three.

The announcement saw falls in Chinese tech shares in Hong Kong, with these losses extending into the morning. Tencent saw a 3% fall while Weibo fell by more than 5%.

Although no specific penalties were announced, the regulator stated that platform providers will be responsible for the enforcement of the rules. The agency did suggest several methods to ensure compliance, including checks and assessments and granting access to data and technology on request.

We listed Tencent and ByteDance as two of the Top 50 Mobile Game Makers for 2022. We’ll be unveiling our list for 2023 at our Top 50 event at Gamescom on August 22.

Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.