China's cyberspace watchdog proposes smartphone screen time limits for minors

August 3, 2023 2:12 am

The Chinese Cybersecurity Administration (CAC) has proposed new rules that would categorize minors into five age groups and limit what and how long they can use their smartphones based on the age group they belong to.

The draft, which are currently out for public comment, would limit minors to a maximum of two hours of smartphone use per day.

The proposed rules would also create a "minor mode" on smartphones that would allow parents to manage and monitor their children's online activities. The mode would allow parents to set time limits, block certain apps and websites, and track their children's online usage.

In addition to time limits, the draft would limit the types of content minors can access on their smartphones based on their age.

The 5 age groups and the corresponding content they can access are:

1. Under 3 years old should be given audio related to enlightenment education.

2. Over 3 years old but under 8 years old should be exposed to content related to enlightenment education, interests, general education, etc.

3. Over 8 years old but under 12 years old should get content related to general education, popular science knowledge, life skills, positive entertainment, and appropriate news information.

4. Over 12 years old but under 16 years old should be shown everything the "previous age group" gets and content related to subject education.

5. Individuals aged over 16 but under 18 should have access to content that is both healthy and appropriate to their cognitive development.

Additionally, the proposed rules would also prohibit smartphones from offering any services to children between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., in order to ensure that they get adequate rest and sleep.

There are some exceptions to these restrictions, such as regulated educational products and emergency services applications.