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2022-11-30 10:14:55

China’s minors are more than ever connected to the internet, but the government’s anti-addiction measures have limited their screen time, a new report published Wednesday said.

An estimated 191 million internet users in China were aged between 6 and 18 in 2021, according to the report jointly carried out by the state-backed China Internet Network Information Center and the Chinese Communist Youth League. The figure represents 96.8% of the country’s population for that age group, up from 94.9% in 2020.

Some 42% of the underage users were said to have developed no “psychological dependence” to the internet, up from 38.7% in 2020, said the report that surveyed over 41,000 respondents including minors, teachers, and parents, although it should be noted that the conclusion was made based on respondents’ subjective evaluation. The results are in line with a recent report that touted the country had alleviated gaming addiction in children.

Online addiction has been a major issue among children and has been blamed for deteriorating eyesight and poor academic performance. To curb screen time, authorities and platforms have introduced various measures, including limited playtime and a “teenager mode.”

Over the past year, the number of minors spending two hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends both dropped by around 3 percentage points to 8.7% and 9.9% respectively, according to the report.

However, the report said that the underage population in rural areas was spending more time online than their urban counterparts due to a lack of monitoring by schools and parents. Internet penetration among rural minors was about 1% higher than that for those in urban areas, the report shows.

Most rural minors used smartphones to access the internet mostly for entertainment purposes, while those in the city used other digital devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartwatches, for studying and browsing the news, according to the report. Nearly half of minors surveyed chose short video apps like Douyin, Kuaishou, and Bilibili over various official media platforms for news, but few checked the source of information.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: VCG)