China’s internet regulator has introduced anti-addiction trial projects on some of the country’s most popular short video platforms as part of its attempts to assuage public concern that excessive consumption of such content is hurting the health of the country’s young. Under the “guidance and organisation” of Cyberspace Administration of China, China’s widely used short video platforms, including Douyin, Kuaishou and Huoshan, have for the first time rolled out in-app anti-addiction systems for youth, according to a Thursday notice published on the administration’s official website. The system is not compulsory. But once users opt in, they will only have access to video content that is deemed appropriate for youngsters. They will be barred from using certain features, such as tipping, and will face limits on when and how much time they get to watch short videos, according to the notice. The move, which is designed to “protect the healthy growth of those who are under 18” and “create a good internet environment in China”, comes amid a drive by Beijing to tighten its grip on short video, which is sweeping the country’s 648 million mobile users, millennials in particular, with a new form of entertainment. TikTok operator ByteDance buys Chinese video gaming start-up Smartphone-enabled entertainment from social messaging, gaming, live-streaming and short video has become a bigger part of the lives of China’s youth, posing challenges to parents and authorities when it comes to protecting children from inappropriate content or indeed addiction. Chinese gaming giants Tencent Holdings and NetEase have both launched anti-addition systems to prevent children from spending too much time on games after People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, last year referred to games as “poison” and called for “strict controls” over the gaming industry, even as it has becomes an important sector of the economy. There are no statistics on how many of China’s 648 million short video users are those who under 18. But a January report from market research firm QuestMobile showed that short video apps have already surpassed instant messaging apps as number one in China by user time. On average, Chinese spent 341.2 minutes on apps every day in 2018, out of which 33.1 per cent watched short videos while 18.6 per cent used messaging. According to the administration, a nationwide anti-addiction system for youth with unified standards will be introduced to China’s short video industry in June after feedback from trial runs.