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Chinese version of TikTok adds time limit for kids, bans nighttime use

The Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin, is limiting kids’ time on the app to 40 minutes per day and banning all overnight use. 

Douyin users under the age of 14 with “real name authenticated” accounts will be automatically entered into a new “youth mode,” parent company ByteDance said over the weekend. 

Youth mode users will also be banned from using the app between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Douyin and TikTok, both owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, feed users an infinite scroll of algorithmically optimized videos. They even have the same logo.

But while Douyin is partially owned by the Chinese government and is aimed at domestic Chinese users, TikTok is available overseas and has looser content moderation rules. 

Douyin’s new restrictions come amid a broader push from the Chinese government to cut down on the time children and teens spend online. 

Douyin is partially owned by the Chinese government.
VCG via Getty Images

In August, government regulators banned minors from playing online video games on school days and limited weekend use to one hour per day. State-run media has slammed online games as “spiritual opium” threatening to “destroy a generation.” 

In order to enforce gaming and social media limitations, China is pushing game developers and social media companies to require all users link their real names to their accounts. 

In its announcement of “youth mode,” Douyin encouraged parents to “help their children complete real-name authentication” but appeared to stop short of requiring it. 

Youth mode users will be banned from using the app between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Youth mode users will be banned from using the app between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Kids who use Douyin will also be shown educational content including “novel and interesting popular science experiments, exhibitions in museums and galleries, beautiful scenery across the country, explanations of historical knowledge, and so on,” according to ByteDance.

China’s government has partially controlled Douyin since April, when a state entity took a board seat and a 1 percent stake in Beijing ByteDance Technology.

Beijing ByteDance oversees the company’s Chinese apps like Douyin but is separate from ByteDance proper, which controls TikTok and is based in the Cayman Islands, the company has said. 

Yet some US critics have called this distinction a sham urged 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.”

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Kathy Lewis

Kathy Lewis is an all-around geek who loves learning new stuff every day. With a background in computer science and a passion for writing, she loves writing for almost all the sections of Editorials99.

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