If you think it is a bit too much to limit underage online gaming to three hours a week, you might be even more surprised by the new parental supervision function just released by Tencent’s WeChat this Monday.
The new function allows parents to connect their devices with their children’s and supervise their online behaviour. To be more specific, parents can decide what content their children can see on WeChat, and for how long; it is an add-on feature of WeChat’s Teenager Mode launched in October last year.
In case you are not familiar, WeChat is not simply an instant messaging app; on top of that, it combines the most popular social media functions like posting daily life, livestreaming, finding nearby people, and interacting with friends and family, as well as online services, such as payment and e-commerce. All these mean that people can easily spend more hours than they realise on this social platform.
Following the government’s restriction on mobile games, which is considered to be the “digital opium” to teenagers, Tencent attempts to address this by offering a solution to potential underage addiction on WeChat.
Chinese parents of over 200 million teenagers, who use WeChat, can now decide which functions are available to their kids and for how many hours they are allowed to watch videos on the platform. Meanwhile, anything that goes beyond the restrictions will require approval from their parents.
Although sounding authoritative, this new feature can only be activated from kids phones, and parents can’t request such supervision rights on their own devices. How far will this new function go – would any young boy or girl proactively grant their parents the right of supervision in their personal virtual space? This question is still to be answered.