China considers limiting kids' smartphone time to two hours per day

Younger children would face even stricter terms.

HUIZENG HU via Getty Images

China might put further limits on kids' smartphone use. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has proposed draft rules that would cap the phone time of children under 18 to a maximum of two hours per day. That's only for 16- and 17-year-olds, too. Youth between eight and 15 would be limited to one hour per day, while those under eight would have 40 minutes.

The draft would also bar any use between 10PM and 6AM. Phones would need to have an easy-to-access mode that lets parents restrict what kids see and permit internet providers to show age-appropriate content. Children under three would be limited to songs and other forms of audio, while those 12 and up can see educational and news material. There would be exceptions for regulated educational content and emergency services.

As with previous measures, the proposal is meant to curb addictive behaviour in children. The Chinese government is concerned prolonged use of mobile devices, games and services may be detrimental to kids' development. The country already limits young people to three hours of online video game time per week, and then only on weekends and public holidays.

The draft is still open to public consultation and isn't guaranteed to pass. There are also questions about implementation. CNBC notes it isn't clear whether hardware manufacturers or operating system developers are responsible for implementing the kids mode. While Apple would have to change the iPhone's parental controls in China regardless of this distinction, involving the OS developer might require that Google make changes, not just vendors like Oppo or Xiaomi.

The rules would also have a significant effect for Chinese app developers like ByteDance (responsible for TikTok and its China-native counterpart Douyin) and Tencent (the maker of WeChat and many games). They may have to design apps and tailor content around these time limits.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.