ByteDance will limit viewing for users younger than 14 years old to 40 minutes per day on Douyin, TikTok’s sibling in China. This set of viewers will only be able to access the app between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., according to a post on Douyin’s official WeChat account on September 18.
The usage cap is framed by Douyin as “the strictest youth protection measure” ever deployed by the platform. It will apply to all existing and new viewers who fall into the specified age bracket.
Douyin will also require users to undergo an identity authentication process, the company said in its WeChat post. The platform has 600 million daily active users, although it is unclear what proportion is younger than 14 years old. On average, short video app users in the country swipe through and watch clips for 110 minutes per day, according to a research report published by the China Netcasting Services Association in 2020.
Although regulators have not ruled that short video platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou should limit screen time for underage users, the move by ByteDance may reflect anticipation for new restrictions for this space like those recently applied to online games.
In a parallel development that could double screen time for young users, ByteDance has created an additional video app for underage users.
The app, called Xiao Qu Xing (“Little Fun Star”), is operated by a subsidiary of ByteDance’s Dali edtech arm, according to Tech Planet. Xiao Qu Xing will host educational content and cap usage for users at 15–40 minutes per day, depending on settings specified by parents. Like Douyin, Xiao Qu Xing will require identity authentication.
The release of Xiao Qu Xing represents a renewal for Dali, which was hit hard in August when the Chinese government decimated the edtech sector and mandated edtech companies to operate on a nonprofit basis. In the first week of August, Dali laid off most of its staff that were part of GuaGuaLong, Qingbei, GoGoKid, and NPY—the unit’s edtech platforms that are designed for students in a range of ages.