There's certainly a lot of opinions about TikTok, and technology that originates from China in general. But putting aside cultural and political differences, I've been reading about the rules that Douyin (China's version of TikTok) have put in place for its younger users, and to be honest, I'm a fan.
I've got a pretty strong opinion that in general, social media isn't a good thing for children. But I'd have to admit that it does have its benefits. Especially given how intertwined social media is with the modern world.
According to Kerry Allen, a BBC China media analyst, these restrictions have been coming for a while:
For the last three years, official media has been warning that the growing amount of time young Chinese people are spending on the internet is having an impact on their physical and mental health.
I'm sure it isn't a surprise to most people that young people's physical and mental health can be affected by the internet, and in particular, social media. But I can't think of any other platform that has actively tried to combat the effects.
As for the rules and differences that apply to Douyin's younger users, here are a few:
- Under 18s require consent from a legal guardian to use the platform.
- More educational content is being produced, which will target younger users.
- Under 14s can only access the platform between 06:00 and 22:00.
- Under 14s can only use the platform for a maximum of 40 minutes per day.
The restrictions for under 14 year olds is known as "Youth Mode", and it requires what they call "real-name authentication", so I'm assuming that some form of identification is necessary, which would certainly be a controversial topic in the west.
However, I still think it's good to see that at least one social media platform is putting the health of its younger users before engagement metrics.