The Chinese social media platform Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, will limit the amount of time children are allowed to use the app to 40 minutes a day. The new policy is set in place for children under 12 years old and was announced on Monday. According to the Beijing Youth Daily, Douyin currently has 200 million monthly active users who spend an average of more than 30 minutes per session on the platform.
Douyin has become one of the most popular social media platforms in China, competing with Kuaishou, a live streaming app that was also created by ByteDance. Douyin’s short-video content includes dance videos, jokes and celebrity gossip, which have won it more than half of the market share for short video apps in China, with Kuaishou taking most of the rest.
Bee Cheng, Douyin’s head of public relations, made a statement to Beijing Youth Daily that in order to ensure the safety and happiness of young children, they would establish age-appropriate content review standards. After receiving feedback from users regarding inappropriate videos related to violence or the occult, the company decided to limit children’s use of the app.
Many parents were happy with this decision because they believe that technology has become a kind of “virtual classroom” for children. However, since Douyin is not designed for learning purposes, there are many ways young users can come across inappropriate content due to its diverse content and the fact that children may not be mature enough to understand it.
Many experts believe that with social media platforms such as Douyin and Kuaishou, children are at risk of becoming addicted to the technology and spending too much time on their smartphones. Parents also face issues when it comes to monitoring and limiting their children’s use of such platforms.
A mother surnamed Zhang, who works as a broadcaster in Beijing, said her child decided to delete the Douyin app on his own after learning about its new policy and awareness of safety concerns. She added: “I think this is a very good move by the platform and I hope it will encourage more parents and children to pay more attention to their digital habits.”
A father who refused to be named said he would not let his child under the age of five install any social media apps on their phone because he is afraid of exposing them to violent or occult content. However, for older children who are already using Douyin on their own, many parents are also reviewing its usage time with their kids.
The new policy is an important step for parenting in the digital age, especially with China’s rapidly growing Internet industry. Parents must begin to understand that apps like Douyin are not just game platforms but educational tools as well.
Bee Cheng added, “We would like to reinforce our positive and healthy development guidelines and hope that parents will work together with us to guide their children’s safe use of our platform.”
The new policy will be enacted on May 1 for users under 12 years old. Parents can monitor usage time with the app’s built-in “sleep mode” function, which prevents children from using the app during designated times.
Bee Cheng also said that Douyin would also like to remind parents to take an active role in supervising their children’s online usage and make use of Douyin’s various functions to help protect them.