The Chinese version of TikTok, known as Douyin, has set a time limit of 40 minutes per day for children, as well as prohibiting overnight use.
Users under the age of 14 who have “real name authenticated” accounts will be automatically enrolled in a new “youth mode,” according to parent company ByteDance.
Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., youth mode users will be prohibited from using the app.
Douyin and TikTok, which are both owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, provide users with an endless scroll of algorithmically optimized videos. In fact, they even have same logos.
However, while Douyin is partially owned by the Chinese government and targeted at domestic Chinese users, TikTok is available internationally and has less stringent content moderation rules.
The Chinese government is attempting to reduce the amount of time children and teenagers spend online, and Douyin’s new restrictions are part of that effort.
Government regulators banned minors from playing online video games during school hours and limited weekend usage to one hour per day in August. Online games have been branded as “spiritual opium” that threatens to “destroy a generation” by state-run media.
China is pressuring game developers and social media companies to require all users to link their real names to their accounts in order to enforce gaming and social media restrictions.
Douyin encouraged parents to “help their children complete real-name authentication” in its announcement of “youth mode,” but did not appear to require it.
According to ByteDance, children who use Douyin will be shown educational content such as “novel and interesting popular science experiments, exhibitions in museums and galleries, beautiful scenery across the country, explanations of historical knowledge, and so on.”
Since April, when a state entity took a board seat and a 1% stake in Beijing ByteDance Technology, the Chinese government has had a partial control over Douyin.
Beijing ByteDance is in charge of the company’s Chinese apps, such as Douyin, but it is distinct from ByteDance, which controls TikTok and is based in the Cayman Islands, according to the company.
However, some critics in the United States have slammed the distinction and urged Vice President Joe Biden to revive a Trump-era effort to ban the app.
“The Biden administration can no longer pretend that TikTok is not beholden to the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, said in August. “Beijing’s aggressiveness makes clear that the regime sees TikTok as an extension of the party-state, and the US needs to treat it that way.”