In brief: China is not a good place to live if you're young and enjoy playing online games or using smartphones. The former is already heavily restricted for under-18s, while the country's cyberspace regulator wants to limit phone and internet use for the age group to a maximum of two hours per day.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) published regulations this week that include some extreme measures for addressing online addiction. The agency wants smart device providers to introduce a 'minor mode' that would prevent users aged under 18 from accessing the internet on mobile devices such as phones and tablets between 10 pm and 6 am.

The minor mode would also restrict how often a person under 18 will be able to use a device. Those aged between 16 and 18 would get a maximum of two hours per day, while anyone between eight years old and 16 gets just an hour. The harshest restriction is reserved for children under 8, who would only be able to use a device for 40 minutes per day.

The CAC did say that parents would be able to opt out of the time limits for their children if they wished. Once a time limit is reached, a mobile device should "automatically close other applications except for specific necessary applications and parent-defined exempt applications."

Bloomberg writes that other requirements set out by the CAC include promoting lullabies for children under 3 and educational news and entertainment content to those under 12, along with guidelines for what type of content should be recommended to children.

Some content will be exempt from the time limit restrictions, including educational content and services, products that promote mental and physical development, emergency products and services that allow for personal safety, and any apps classed as exempt from parental custom settings.

Platform providers will be responsible for enforcement, though the CAC didn't specify what penalties they may face for violations. The regulator will carry out periodic checks and assessments and be given access to technology and data on request to ensure compliance with the rules.

Back in August 2021, China tightened its already harsh restrictions on online gaming for those under 18. Previously, minors could access online games for one and a half hours on weekdays and three hours on holidays and weekends. This was slashed to just one hour, between 8 pm and 9 pm local time, on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.

In May 2022, China prohibited livestreaming platforms from offering tipping services to minors. Platforms were also asked to create dedicated youth content censorship teams, and they must shut down parental-controlled 'youth mode' user activities after 10 pm to "ensure they [under-18s] have enough time to rest."