In a recent move by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), children under the age of 18 in China may soon face restrictions on their smartphone usage. The CAC proposed a maximum limit of two hours per day for smartphone usage, as well as a ban on accessing the internet on mobile devices from 10 pm to 6 am. While the intention behind these measures is to address concerns over myopia and internet addiction among young people, the announcement has had a significant impact on tech companies and their stocks. This article will analyze the potential consequences of these proposed regulations on the Chinese tech industry.
The publication of the CAC’s draft guidelines has caused a decline in the stock prices of Chinese tech firms. Companies such as Bilibili and Kuaishou experienced a significant drop in their shares, falling by 6.98 percent and 3.53 percent, respectively. Tencent Holdings, the operator of the popular social network app WeChat, also saw a decline of 2.99 percent. Investors, it seems, are not impressed with the proposed restrictions on smartphone usage for minors.
The implementation of these regulations could pose significant challenges for internet companies in China. Xia Hailong, a lawyer at the Shanghai Shenlun law firm, believes that complying with the new requirements will require substantial effort and additional costs. There is also a high risk of non-compliance, which could further complicate matters for these companies. As a result, many internet companies may consider directly prohibiting minors from using their services to avoid complications and ensure compliance with the regulations.
Addressing Eye Health and Addiction
The concerns over rates of myopia and internet addiction among young people have driven the Chinese government to take action. In 2021, a curfew was imposed on video game players under the age of 18, which had a significant impact on gaming giants like Tencent. Moreover, popular video-sharing platforms such as Bilibili, Kuaishou, and ByteDance have already implemented “teenage modes” to restrict access to content and limit usage duration. ByteDance’s app Douyin, similar to TikTok, even has a time limit of 40 minutes for teenagers. These measures aim to address the negative impacts of excessive smartphone usage on eye health and overall well-being.
The proposed smartphone usage restrictions come in the wake of a regulatory crackdown on China’s technology industry. However, recent signals from Beijing suggest that this crackdown may be coming to an end, with authorities expressing their support for the development of tech giants. It remains to be seen how this delicate balance between regulation and support will play out in the future.
The proposed restrictions on smartphone usage for children in China have triggered a decline in the stock prices of tech companies. While the intentions behind these measures are to address concerns over eye health and internet addiction, the potential impact on the industry is significant. Internet companies may face challenges in implementing the regulations, leading to additional costs and compliance risks. However, these restrictions also highlight the government’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of young people and promoting the development of the tech industry. As the regulatory landscape continues to evolve, the tech giants in China will navigate the fine line between compliance and growth.