TikTok owner ByteDance limits younger users to 40 minutes a day in China

All kids under 14 have been moved into a new "youth mode."

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A man holding a phone walks past a sign of Chinese company ByteDance's app TikTok, known locally as Douyin, at the International Artificial Products Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 18, 2019. Picture taken October 18, 2019.  REUTERS/Stringer  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.
China Stringer Network / Reuters

Following a crackdown on gaming by Chinese authorities, ByteDance is introducing new youth controls for Douyin, its TikTok-equivalent app in China, Bloomberg has reported. Any users confirmed to be under 14 will enter a new "youth mode" limited to 40 minutes of usage per day. At the same time, it unveiled a new app called Xiao Qu Xing ("Little Fun Star"), a TikTok-style short video app with limited subject materials, a 40 minute time limit and the ability to like, but not upload or share videos. 

On top of the time restriction, kids in China won't be able to access Douyin between 10PM and 6AM. The new controls only apply to users who supplied their real names and ages, so to that end, Douyin has asked parents to register their kids' real information. ByteDance also added more content to Douyin with educational subjects like science, art history, history and more. The new app, Xiao Qu Xing, appears to offer exclusively educational content.

Gaming limits introduced earlier this month are even more restrictive, with under-14s limited to just three hours per week between 8-9PM on Friday, weekends and public holidays. Previously, kids could game for 90 minutes a day and three hours on holidays. The rule change was put in place to combat gaming addiction, regulators said.  

The TikTok restrictions won't affect as many kids, however. According to an article in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), just 0.34 percent of Douyin users are under 12, with 4.18 percent from 13-19 years old. Those figures are far from certain, though, as Douyin doesn't publish demographic data. 

It also acknowledged that it might be easy to bypass the new rules. "As the first short video platform to launch minor protection measures, we deeply understand that there will be imperfections," the company said in a statement. To that end, it has launched a bug-finding campaign seeking "loopholes" in the login process. 

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