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China’s Plan to Limit Smartphone Usage

China’s cyberspace watchdog has recently presented the draft “Guidelines for the Construction of Minor Mode of the Mobile Internet,” aiming to limit smartphone usage among children and address digital addiction concerns. The draft is open for public comments and proposes age-group-specific restrictions for children’s smartphone usage.

This topic of “China’s Plan to Limit Smartphone Usage” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Highlights of the Guidelines

The draft guidelines include the following key points:

  1. Limiting Smartphone Usage by Children: The guidelines propose a maximum of 2 hours per day for children’s smartphone usage.
  2. Introducing “Minor Mode” by Tech Companies: Tech companies will be mandated to introduce a “minor mode” with usage restrictions for children.
  3. Age-Group-Specific Restrictions: The proposed restrictions vary based on age groups, with recommended usage times as follows:
    • Under 3 years: Recommends children’s songs, enlightenment education, parent-child programs, primarily audio content. No direct usage time mentioned.
    • 3-8 years: 40 minutes per day.
    • 8-12 years: Not specified.
    • 12-16 years: Not specified.
    • 16-18 years: 2 hours per day, with no services available from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  4. Parental Control: Parents will be required to sign on and off the minor mode, and they are expected to back the campaign once it is rolled out.
  5. Tech Companies’ Responsibilities: Tech companies will need to provide regular data to authorities and undergo regular checks by authorities.

Reasons for the Guidelines

The main aim of these guidelines is to curb digital addiction among youth, as government surveys have indicated high levels of digital addiction among children in China. By limiting smartphone usage and introducing age-specific restrictions, the authorities hope to create a healthier digital environment for young users.

Significance of the Proposed Regulations

If adopted, China will introduce some of the strictest regulations worldwide for children’s smartphone usage. The guidelines emphasize the government’s commitment to protecting children from excessive digital exposure and promoting healthy online habits. By involving both tech companies and parents in enforcing these regulations, the authorities aim to strike a balance between the benefits and potential harms of smartphone usage among children.

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