China’s Two Sessions: calls for rolling out online anti-addiction system for elders provokes uproar

March 9, 2022 0 Comments

During the current Two Sessions in China, a deputy to the National People’s Congress advocated introducing an online anti-addiction system for the elderly, sparking heated debate.

The term “two sessions” refers to the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

It is an annual event, usually held in March each year, where thousands of Chinese legislators will participate in formulating future action plans for all aspects of China’s development and people’s livelihood.

Ke Yunfeng, the delegate, said that excessive obsession with short videos may impair the health of the elderly, and online fraud may easily impact them through this channel. “It is critical to regulate the content of short videos and prevent seniors from indulging in short videos,” he added.

Ke’s idea provoked an uproar. Should there be a comparable anti-addiction mechanism for the senior demographic, given that there is currently one for video-obsessed teenager users?

In 2019, TikTok’s sister app Douyin, Kuaishou and other major short video platforms in China have rolled out anti-addiction systems for youth under the “guidance and organization” of China’s top internet regulator. Users who opt in to the system will only have access to video content that is considered appropriate for youngsters. Besides, they will face restrictions on when and how much time they have to view short videos and will be prevented from accessing certain services like tipping.

Some people think that an anti-addiction system is necessary because seniors always spend a lot of time browsing videos on a daily basis, which is detrimental to their physical and mental health. Some think that sometimes older people are easily brainwashed by fake news in short videos, so having an anti-addiction system with content filtering would help.

Others think the anti-addiction system for elders is nonsense because they, like any adult, have the right to decide how to use the short video platforms.

According to the 49th “Statistical Report on China’s Internet Development Status,” as of December 2021, 43.2% of Chinese individuals aged 60 and over use the Internet, amounting to 119 million people.

Short videos have become the most important source of entertainment for older netizens. According to a recent survey, on major short video platforms like Douyin, elderly users spend an average of 1,500 minutes per month browsing videos.

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