China restricts TikTok usage by children to just 40 minutes per day

It's the latest move in a crackdown by the Chinese government on tech use.
It's the latest move in a crackdown by the Chinese government on tech use. Photo credit: Getty Images

Children in China looking for ways to entertain themselves following the video game ban have lost another outlet, Douyin, the Chinese app known as TikTok elsewhere.

ByteDance, the creators of the app, have revealed all under-14s will only be allowed to use Douyin for just 40 minutes per day, and only during a four-hour window.

Access is prohibited between 10pm and night and 6pm the next day, thanks to the new 'youth mode' that's been implemented.

It forms part of the latest crackdown by Chinese authorities on activities it considers problematic.

Last month all under-18s were banned from playing video games for more than three hours a week, because of concerns about addiction to what it described as "spiritual opium". 

The restrictions apply to all electronic devices, including phones and allow gaming from just 8pm to 9pm on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays, with an additional hour on public holidays.

"Teenagers are the future of our motherland," the Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) spokesperson as saying at the time. 

"Protecting the physical and mental health of minors is related to the people's vital interests, and relates to the cultivation of the younger generation in the era of national rejuvenation."

The rules originated from the NPPA amid a broader clampdown by Beijing against China's tech giants, like shopping giant Alibaba and gaming company Tencent.

That includes the apparent lack of sightings of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, who stepped down from the board last year.

Ma has all but disappeared from public view, with much speculation as to both his wellbeing and the role Chinese authorities are playing in his absence.

He has been seen less often since a speech in October 2020 in which he criticised Chinese authorities for, among other things, their interference with businesses.

As well as limiting their time on the app, the new 'youth mode' on Douyin also directs the type of content that can be viewed, according to a blog post from ByteDance.

"In the youth mode, we have also prepared wonderful content for everyone, such as novel and interesting popular science experiments, exhibitions in museums and galleries, beautiful scenery across the country and explanations of historical knowledge."

"Yes, we have become more strict with teenagers," the company concluded.

"At the same time, we will work harder to provide high-quality content so that teenagers can learn knowledge and see the world on Douyin."