With schools in China now closed for summer and unbearably hot weather hitting many cities across the country, youngsters are set to be glued to screens. Social media platforms are pitching in to help protect their young users with advice, activities, and close content moderation during the summer vacation.
On July 12, Xiaohongshu outlined four top tips for “civilised internet use” via its official housekeeping account. The first tip recommends minors “say no to pornographic, vulgar, and violent content!” to properly put into practice the values of socialism.
The post also reminds youngsters to remain friendly and positive and not give out personal information. In line with government concerns, Xiaohongshu also instructed minors to “strengthen self-discipline” and not become an “Internet addict”.
Douyin posted a similar statement announcing the kick-off of its “special governance” for the protection of minors in summer. The program will include heightened oversight of online bullying, scamming, and deep fake technology, as well as any negative content designed to induce anxiety among young people. Douyin will also hold educational events online to raise awareness.
According to a widely publicised report released in November 2022, China’s games publishing committee claimed gaming addiction was “basically solved” as over 75% of gamers had limited their playing time to three hours per week. The report also revealed 72% of parents thought gaming was not having a negative impact on their children’s lives.
However, since the introduction of gaming restrictions for minors in 2021, short videos have risen to replace video games as the biggest concern of China’s regulatory bodies. In February this year, the National Radio and Television Administration announced it was looking at strengthening the supervision of short video content, citing addiction as a concern.
Douyin has been ahead of the curve in tackling this problem, first introducing in-app parental controls and teenager mode, which restricts users to 40 minutes of app time between 6 AM and 10 PM, as far back as 2018. Since 2021, teenager mode has been mandatory for under 14s. With many social media platforms including Xiaohongshu and WeChat diversifying into short video and livestream content, platform-specific restrictions only go so far towards tightly controlling under 18’s online experience.