How many ways do kids get around internet restrictions?

*This article is the content of the 2023nd issue of "Half Moon Talk" in 22

With the popularization and application of the Internet, more and more minors have begun to access and use the Internet. According to statistics, as of June 2023, the number of underage netizens in China has exceeded 6 million. At the same time, many minors are addicted to mobile phones, which has aroused the continuous attention of the whole society.

Minors use the Internet unhealthily, parents have a headache, and society is worried

The rapid development of the Internet has expanded the learning and living space of minors, and at the same time, it has also aroused the attention of the whole society to the protection of minors online. Online entertainment products represented by short videos and mobile games cater to the leisure needs of minors, and many people are addicted to them and suffer some physical and mental injuries.

"Adolescence is a key node in the formation of self-awareness and self-control, and addiction to mobile phones is extremely detrimental to guiding adolescents to learn self-management during this period." Fu Weidong, a professor at the Faculty of Artificial Intelligence Education at Central China Normal University, said.

The China Youth Daily Social Survey Center and the Joint Questionnaire Network have surveyed 1974,92 parents surveyed, and the results show that 1.<>% of the parents surveyed believe that teenagers are addicted to mobile phone short videos is common. Many parents also said that their children's addiction to mobile phones has reached the point where it is difficult to discipline.

In order to prevent teenagers from becoming addicted to mobile phones or even being deceived, major domestic social, short video, and mobile game platforms have successively launched "anti-addiction systems" or "youth mode" to restrict the time and scope of teenagers' participation in chatting, games, lucky draws, and live broadcasts.

In May 2022, the Central Civilization Office and other four ministries and commissions issued the "Opinions on Regulating Online Live Streaming Tips and Strengthening the Protection of Minors", which clearly pointed out that the youth model should be optimized and upgraded, and all short video platforms were required to launch the "Youth Anti-Addiction System", which will regulate minors' online behavior in terms of use time, duration, functions, and browsing content.

There are many ways for minors to circumvent restrictions on access

Banyuetan reporters observed that the measure has achieved certain results, but there are still loopholes, and there are still many ways to break through the "blockade". According to the survey report, 30% of minors think that the "anti-addiction system" is not very useful. The "anti-addiction system" of most short video and game platforms requires parents to actively turn on or actively authenticate themselves as minors on the platform. This gives some minors, especially left-behind children, an opportunity to take advantage of it.

The research of Professor Fu Weidong's research group shows that "difficulty in anti-addiction supervision" is a common phenomenon, and many countries have tried to do so but have not achieved good results. Some major foreign social networks require you to upload personal data, but you can easily bypass the restrictions by entering a false date or year of birth.

"I bought my identity information online, and I can not only register a short video app with it, but also play online games without restrictions. Sometimes the account can't be logged in, so I borrow my grandparents' mobile phone to log in with a verification code when they are at home. Hua Lian, a second-year junior high school student in Binzhou City, Shandong Province, said.

Xiong Bingqi, president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, believes that due to the lack of an effective identification mechanism for minors, minors can buy second-hand accounts or borrow adult accounts to bypass the system. There are also unscrupulous businesses that take advantage of this to make profits and sell cracking technology to minors.

Minors also share online accounts, that is, looking for "game partners" on social platforms, and multiple people buy or lease an account for common use. Previously, some media reported that the Nanjing Jianye police smashed a number of criminal gangs in Jiangsu, Henan, Anhui, Hunan and other places that illegally rented game accounts through illegal buying and selling of personal information, involving more than 40 people.

The implementation of more powerful measures is worth looking forward to

The healthy growth of minors is related to the happiness and tranquility of hundreds of millions of families. The Party Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to efforts to protect minors online. The State Council recently promulgated the Regulations on the Protection of Minors Online, which will come into force on January 2024, 1. This is conducive to creating an online environment that protects the physical and mental health of minors, and provides strong legal safeguards for the protection of minors online.

With regard to the issue of minors' addiction to the Internet seriously impacting their physical and mental health, study and life, the Regulations require providers of online products and services to establish and complete systems for preventing addiction, reasonably restricting minors' online consumption behavior, and preventing and resisting negative value tendencies such as the supremacy of traffic. Refine the provisions on the real-name system for online games, requiring online gaming service providers to establish and improve game rules to prevent minors from becoming addicted to the internet, classify game products, and give age-appropriate reminders.

Fu Weidong expects that in the face of the ever-changing cracking methods, the next step can be to guide industry associations such as short video, social networking, and games to formulate an evaluation system for the "anti-addiction system" of Internet platforms, and urge the platforms to patch technical vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

In response to the problem of minors' irrational consumption online, the Regulations make it clear that online service providers such as online games, online livestreams, online audio and video, and online social networking shall adhere to the principles of integration, friendliness, practicality, and effectiveness in light of the characteristics of minors' use of their services at different ages, and set up a model for minors to provide functions such as authority management and consumption management for guardians performing guardianship duties in a conspicuous and convenient manner. Online service providers such as online games, online livestreams, online audio and video, and online social networking shall employ measures to reasonably limit the amount of single consumption and the cumulative amount of daily consumption by minors of different ages in the use of their services, and must not provide minors with paid services that are inconsistent with their capacity for civil conduct. The State Department of Press and Publication, in conjunction with relevant departments, is to draft management provisions on the upper limit of spending on online gaming services provided to minors.

Zhang Shuqiong, deputy dean of the Normal College of Jinhua Vocational and Technical College, said that only by allowing minors to develop healthy Internet habits can minors be prevented from becoming addicted to the Internet from the source, which is inseparable from the words and deeds of teachers and parents.

When interpreting the Regulations, the relevant responsible persons of the Ministry of Justice and the Cyberspace Administration of China pointed out that the Regulations strengthen the prevention and intervention of schools and guardians in minors' Internet addiction, improve teachers' ability to identify and intervene in the early stage of minors' Internet addiction, and strengthen guardians' guidance on minors' safe and reasonable use of the Internet. At the same time, clarify the responsibilities of relevant departments in efforts to prevent minors from becoming addicted to the internet. In addition, it is strictly forbidden to interfere with minors' addiction to the Internet in a manner that harms their physical and mental health.

Half Moon Talk Reporter: Li Wei, Song Likun

(Half Moon Talk WeChat public account)