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TikTok Maker ByteDance Limits Screen Time for Young Users

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ByteDance, one of China’s leading tech firms, has upgraded its protection system for kids on Douyin — the version of TikTok available in the People’s Republic of China. The company has also created a new short video app for users under the age of 21.

Douyin announced on Saturday that it has successfully incorporated a more stringent ‘youth mode’ into the app over the past three months.

All Douyin users under 14 who have registered using their real names will automatically enter the app’s youth mode and cannot exit independently. 

The new setting only allows access to the app from 6 AM to 10 PM and for a maximum of 40 minutes per day, according to Douyin. Those using youth mode can swipe up and down to watch short videos but cannot interact with the content or other users.

douyin teenager mode

Users under 14 who register using their real names will automatically enter ‘youth mode’ on Douyin. Screengrab via Douyin

Douyin said it included more youth-friendly and educational content — including science experiments, exhibitions, natural scenery, and history — in youth mode. The app also encourages parents to help their children complete authentication and apply the new setting.

“This measure probably hinders many minor livestreamers from rising to fame,” a netizen commented on China’s Twitter-like social media platform Weibo.

“Underage Douyin fans won’t be happy. Though most users under the age of 14 are using Douyin on their parents’ phones anyways,” another comment said.

As a Douyin alternative, ByteDance has also developed another short video app for users under 21 called 小趣星 (Xiaoquxing, which roughly translates to ‘little fun star’), a tech-focused Chinese media outlet reported on Monday.

Similar to Douyin’s youth mode, Xiaoquxing offers educational content and limits user interactions. According to the report, users are only allowed up to 30 minutes of screen time on weekdays and 40 minutes during weekends.

The app is not yet available for download on China’s app stores.

ByteDance has created a new short video app for users under 21. Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash

These child-protection measures come amid a string of new regulations targeting China’s education system and the online gaming industry.

In late July, China’s chief administrative authority released new education policies to reduce students’ workloads and tighten rules on for-profit curriculum-based tutoring companies.

On August 30, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) announced new regulations restricting gaming companies from providing more than three hours of service time per week for those under 18. Authorities said that gaming companies should better censor their games and address the widespread over-spending associated with gaming.

Cover photo by Depositphotos

Lu Zhao
Lu Zhao is a bilingual and multimedia journalist with a focus on human interest and social issues. Her work has appeared in USA Today, UPI, SupChina, Pandaily, Chicago Reporter, and other publications.