Chinese short video apps Douyin and Kwai introduce feature to cut users’ screen time

But the move could curtail their future growth.

Photo Credit: IC Photo

Young Chinese below 16 will be locked out of short video apps including Douyin and Kwai after bedtime thanks to a “youth addiction prevention system” mandated on those apps by the country’s internet regulatory body.

Both Douyin (known as TikTok outside China) and Kwai have launched a so-called “Youth Mode” feature on Thursday to help reduce young users’ exposure to short-videos, by not giving them access to those “addictive” short video apps after 22:00.

ByteDance, the company behind China’s hyper-popular Douyin and Huoshan, said in a statement to KrASIA that the introduction of the youth mode is the company’s act of “actively taking its social responsibility” under the guidance of the Cyberspace Administration of China.

Under the “Youth Mode”, users are only allowed to watch 40 minutes of short videos daily from a tailored “content pool” and they would be automatically logged out from 10pm to 6am the next morning. The content pool consisted of mostly music, calligraphy, drawing and other educational clips.

Underage users will also be restricted from accessing features including the ability to send virtual gifts, top up on virtual currency, withdraw cash and start their own live streams.

According to statistics from iiMedia, a Guangzhou-based digital consultancy, users under the age of 24 make up more than half of both Douyin and Kwai’s active user base.

Though both platforms might not have too many school children users and hence not subject to a steep drop of monthly active users, it could still curtail the industry’s future growth, iiMedia’s chief analyst Zhang Yi told KrASIA.

“Short-video platforms generally don’t have too many users above the age of 30. Therefore, [the new measures] could curtail or become the bottleneck of the platforms’ future development,” Zhang said.

Despite concerns from industry insiders, short-video platforms tried to stay on positive notes. “Instead of focusing on metrics such as active user numbers, Kwai focuses more on the users themselves and the health and sustainable development of the platform,” a Kwai spokesperson said.