Xinhua News Agency

Age law curbs youth Internet use

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 May, 2002, 12:00am

Beijing yesterday issued rules stipulating that all Internet users under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult when visiting Internet cafes, Xinhua reported.

The new regulations, issued by the Ministry of Culture, also said children would only be allowed to go to Internet cafes during school holidays. They would be permitted to use computers between 8am and 8pm, for a maximum of three hours at a time.

The imposition of the restrictions coincides with a national crackdown on computer crime, which began last week and runs until National Day on October 1. Recent media reports have portrayed students neglecting studies to pursue their interest in computer games. Last month a student died of exhaustion after playing a computer game for 17 hours in Jiangxi province.

Other reports have suggested that triads or gangsters found Internet cafes a convenient place to recruit new members.

A Ministry of Culture official, Zhang Xinjian, was cited by Xinhua as saying that the Internet was being used by gangsters to distribute pornography, conduct illegal gambling and promote 'superstitious contents'.

Mr Zhang did not say if he was referring to the banned Falun Gong sect when he raised concern over content.

The new Internet rules will come as a blow to the emerging Internet cafes industry, as a large proportion of their customers are students.

The report also said the Public Security Ministry would join with the Ministry of Culture to instal censoring software to screen the contents of the Internet.