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China tries to restrict social media and gaming as teens become more addicted and mental health deteriorates

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Mark Mahaney, Senior Managing Director of Evercore ISI, says the social media platform Snapchat has the fastest growing user base.

China is cracking down on children’s use of social media and games as teenagers in other countries spend more time online.

Douyin, an app popularly known as “Chinese TikTok,” has been criticized for presenting disturbing material to a large audience of minors. However, in April 2021, the video sharing app added a “Youth Mode” feature to restrict teenagers’ access to the app and its content, according to Nikkei Asia.

The “youth mode” allows users under the age of 18 to watch videos for no longer than 40 minutes at a time, and young users cannot access the app between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., the outlet reported.

The content that young users view on the app is also reviewed by Douyin content reviewers.

More recently, in late August, China introduced new rules for young players in the country. Online game providers are now only allowed to allow young users to play for one hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, the state media agency Xinhua News reported.

According to the South China Morning Post, Chinese authorities have allegedly argued that the “Youth Mode” features did not go far enough and cracked down on companies to make it difficult for young users to bypass these time-limited features.

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Mobile users in China ranked # 1 in time spent on mobile apps in the first quarter of 2021, followed by India, Brazil and the United States, according to data from app analytics website App Annie.

U.S. teenagers spent significantly more time on their phones and online games than the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to stay out of school – in some cases a full year or more – and stay away from friends, as reported earlier this year became.

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In addition to addiction to social media and games, reports show that teens may have mental health issues based on what they see on social apps.

For example, researchers tapped into Facebook, the owner of Instagram, to study the app’s effects on the mental health of young users over the past three years found that 32% of teenage girls who were “bad at In relation to their bodies, ”said Instagram made the problem worse. according to a Monday report in the Wall Street Journal.

Apple iPhone XR shows the Instagram application on the phone. (iStock)

Instagram public policy director Karina Newton said on a blog post Tuesday that she stood by the research that demonstrates the company’s “commitment to understanding complex and difficult problems young people may be struggling with and all of the work of “Informing Instagram to help those who have these problems.”

About four in ten Americans use Instagram compared to about seven in ten Americans who use Facebook, according to a poll by Pew Research published in April. Among young adult users between the ages of 18 and 29, the majority (81%) said they used Instagram.

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More than 40% of the app’s users are under 22 years of age, and around 22 million young people use the app every day, WSJ reported, citing Facebook documents. A 2018 poll by Pew Research, quoted by Newton in her blog post on Tuesday, found that 81% of teenagers ages 13-17 found that social media made them feel more connected in general, while 26% said it made them feel insecure.

Also on Tuesday, ByteDance, a short-form video app from Chinese parent company TikTok, launched a series of new “wellbeing resources” aimed at tackling self-esteem problems, thoughts of suicide, and other worrying material that can harm young people using the app .

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“Our community is very important to us and we are always looking for new ways to promote their well-being. That’s why we’re taking additional steps to make it easier for people to find resources on TikTok when they need them. ”Tara Wadhwa, director of public order for the company’s US subsidiary, said in a blog post on Tuesday.

TikTok said in 2020 that it has around 100 million monthly active American users, although that number has likely increased significantly. More than 30% – or 30 million – of these users were under the age of 19, according to a September 2020 tweet from TikTok’s global industry strategist.

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