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Why Does China Want to Limit Screen Time for Minors?

By Orgesta Tolaj


3 December 2023

China issues screen time limit for minors

© Katerina Holmes / Unsplash

We are all guilty of scrolling on our phones from waking up to bedtime. This means so are the little ones. They are taught to use their phones quite early on in their lives. Kids are also practically handed tablets before they can say “mom” or “dad.” However, China is worried this might become a bigger issue. That is why the country is planning to raise the screen time limit for minors.

China Issues Screen Time Limit for Minors

China is taking steps to address internet addiction among children and teenagers. They are aiming to foster “good morality” and instill “socialist values” in the younger population. The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s primary internet regulator, has proposed a set of measures. According to the proposal, all mobile devices, apps, and app stores would be required to include a “minor mode” restricting daily screen time.

The proposed limit is a maximum of two hours per day, varying based on the age group. If accepted, these restrictions would expand on existing efforts by Beijing. This is to curtail screen time among youngsters and shield them from what is deemed “undesirable information.” The move shows China’s ongoing commitment to shaping the digital habits of its youth. They want to influence their exposure to online content.

How Would the Screen Time Limit Work?

Proposed draft rules were open for public discussion until September 2. Children and teens using devices in the minor mode in China would experience automatic closure of online applications once their chosen screen time ends. The mode would also provide “age-based content.”

Additionally, individuals under 18 would be barred from accessing screens between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Children under eight would have a daily limit of 40 minutes. Those aged eight to 16 would be allowed one hour. Moreover, teenagers between 16 and 18 could use screens for up to two hours. A universal reminder to take breaks would be issued after 30 minutes of device use across all age groups.

Why It Could Be Beneficial

The draft rules in China propose that mobile internet service providers play an active role in producing content that promotes “core socialist values” and fosters a sense of national community. Parents would retain the ability to override time restrictions, and specific educational and emergency services would be exempt from these limits. The concern over “internet addiction” has grown into a significant social issue, leading to the rise of boot-camp-style treatment centers, though the efficacy and safety of such interventions have been questioned.

The “Myopia” Issue in China

Myopia has become a significant health concern in China, with experts attributing the high prevalence of nearsightedness among young people to factors such as insufficient exposure to sunlight and excessive screen time. China has one of the world’s largest internet user bases. It has around 1.07 billion people with web access, and about one in five users are aged 19 or under.

China Issues Screen Time Limit for Minors
© chiến bá / Pexels

The success of the proposed measures might hinge on parental acceptance, as suggested by a father in Zhuhai city, who highlighted the potential of the regulations in aiding parents to supervise and restrict their children’s screen time, especially considering instances where children use their parents’ accounts for online activities.

What Parents Had to Say

Parents interviewed by CNN expressed tentative support for China’s proposed measures. One mother from Zhejiang province appreciated the potential benefits of protecting children’s vision and facilitating parental control over screen time. She emphasized the positive and healthy content available under the proposed “minor mode,” highlighting its potential advantages for fostering a more conducive digital environment for children.

Do you agree with China’s choice to raise the screen time limit for minors?

You might also want to read: A Full Guide on Parenting in the Digital Age

Orgesta Tolaj

Your favorite introvert who is buzzing around the Hive like a busy bee!