Guangdong legislators are seeking to ban minors, and possibly anybody under age 23, from meeting internet friends in the real world without permission from parents or guardians, mainland media said yesterday. The report came a day after mainland officials announced that China had surpassed the United States as the world's biggest online community, with more than 250 million internet users registered. The proposal would also require parents to 'correctly guide and supervise' their children's online activities and ban internet cafes from operating within 200 metres of schools. It will be discussed by provincial legislators in September. Reports of minors being robbed, raped or murdered after meeting online 'friends' in the real world have been regular fodder for mainland media. The Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported that the conditions would apply to anybody under the age of 23, rather than 18, in an attempt to better protect college undergraduates. But legal experts questioned whether such a proposal could be enforced. Zhang Haixia , a Shenzhen-based lawyer with the Guangdong Juvenile Rights Protection Committee, said minors would not abide by such a regulation. 'It's unlikely that children will get their parents' approval before meeting Net friends in the real world, and this may mean the regulation would exist in name only,' Ms Zhang said. The draft specifies punishment for parents, guardians or internet cafe operators who fail to follow the rules, but not for children who break them. Ms Zhang blamed poor enforceability for the lack of a penalty for juveniles. She said it was impossible to itemise in a law every minor's or parent's obligation, and said legal protection for juveniles should focus on their rights rather than their responsibilities. The draft also prohibits minors from staying out at night or living alone. Children under 12 are banned from sitting in the front seats of cars. Some online critics said the draft defied common sense. 'Young people over 18 years old have most of the same legal responsibilities as an adult, and they are allowed to get married at 20, according to Chinese law. But those under 23 years old would now be required to get approval from their parents before they meet a newly made friend or live alone,' an online poster said. The China Internet Network Information Centre, an official research and administrative body under the State Council, estimated that the number of juvenile internet surfers reached had 49.58 million by the end of last month, and some reports said that at least 10 per cent of them were addicted to the internet.