China’s hottest short-video sharing app Douyin 抖音 has launched an all-new alternate user experience tailored for teen and pre-teen users called “Youth Mode.”
When enabled, Youth Mode causes the app to display only videos hand-picked and vetted by Douyin’s Youth Content Team. Selected videos are restricted to family-friendly categories like education, art, and age-appropriate entertainment.
Following a series of crackdowns on live video content, Douyin has focused on corralling excessive or inappropriate use by minors (Bloomberg):
- “[In the summer of 2017], the Ministry of Culture cracked down on 30 livestreaming apps without defining what the services had done wrong. Overnight, a dozen were shuttered.”
- “The government says it’s also banned more than 2,000 hosts for behavior that ‘offended socialist core values and brought negative impacts to the healthy growth of youth and teenagers,’ according to a statement from the Cyberspace Administration of China, which oversees internet content.”
Douyin responded to the intensifying regulation with a time lock feature, released in March 2018, which allows parents or guardians to set a maximum daily limit on app use. Once that time has been exceeded, the app shuts down until a password is entered.
Why it matters
- Youth Mode, which has been in beta since July 2018, is Douyin’s strategy to keep Beijing’s censors pacified and keep itself out of regulatory hot water, particularly in light of several soon-to-be-ratified internet protection statutes for minors.
- China’s apps are responding to an increasingly diverse user base by implementing tools to accommodate the needs of both youth and senior markets.
- Chinese users are often less concerned with personal privacy, and highly family-centric. Those two factors lower the invasiveness of features that allow one user to control certain aspects of another user’s experience. So we’re beginning to see the emergence of apps which natively allow parents to limit children’s use, or allow working-age adults to remotely handle more complex processes, like signup and checkout, for their aging parents.
- NetEase Tech:抖音上线全新青少年模式：只能浏览精选的短视频
- Bloomberg:China Is Obsessed With Livestreaming and the Censors Are Racing to Keep Up
- ST Daily:净化网络空间，为青少年安全上网保驾护航