China’s nearly 223 million Internet users are students. Is the “youth model” a real protection or a form?

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CCTV reporter Wu Wei Liu Xinlu Nian Li Jun
According to the 46th statistical report on Internet development in China recently released by China Internet Network Information Center, as of June this year, the number of Internet users in China has reached 940 million, of which 18.3% are under the age of 19, accounting for 172 million. By occupation, students accounted for 23.7%. In other words, there are nearly 223 million Internet users who are still studying.
At present, the Internet has become an important way for minors to obtain information, understand the world, and have leisure and entertainment. However, the Internet content is not only good and bad, but also easy to cause harm to the minors who are not sound in mind and weak in self-control. Watching live broadcast, swiping videos and playing games, minors addicted to the Internet not only delayed their study, but also happened many times like “16-year-old girls reward anchor, 550000 families squander”, “bear children reward anchor 120000, parents call the police for help”.
When it comes to minors’ access to the Internet, parents have a lot to say.
Reporter: will he be restricted to using short videos?
Citizen: Yes, I won’t let him see it. It’s too bad for his study.
Citizen: Yes, I don’t like children’s contact with electronic products.
Reporter: did you know that there is a youth mode in the short video platform?
Citizen: I don’t know. I seldom see it.
Citizen: I know, tiktok first jumped out every time, but I didn’t use it.
Citizen: I think it’s quite good that some (Youth mode) give lectures to children with positive energy.
Citizen: I know, but I didn’t open it. To be honest.
Citizen: they will pay attention to what they (children) see, and they will not deliberately open this (Youth) mode. If it’s true that children don’t have this kind of self-control, then you must use it. The original intention of its design is to have this meaning.
Citizen: to a certain extent, it will limit the scope of children’s online search, and restrict some of their behaviors.
Citizen: I think we need this mode, because some children use their own mobile phones now. This (Youth mode) is what many parents need to set up on their mobile phones at the beginning. If they don’t set it up, they won’t be able to manage it later.
53 video and live broadcast platforms launched “youth mode”
The “youth mode” just mentioned by parents actually refers to the “youth anti addiction system” launched in March 2019 under the leadership of the state Internet information office and mainly on short video platform and live broadcast platform. The system will regulate minors’ online behavior in terms of using time, duration, function and browsing content. As of October this year, 53 online video and live broadcasting platforms have launched the “youth mode”.
Is the “youth model” really protective or formal?
How to use the “youth model”? What kind of protective effect can be achieved?
Reporters from the 53 online video and live broadcast platforms that have launched the “youth mode” have randomly selected several applications for experience. Most of them, when they are used for the first time every day, the system will have a pop-up window to prompt them to enter the “youth mode” by inputting a 4-digit password. At the same time, some applications can also screen out the users of rural left behind children by tracking the geographical location, analyzing the user behavior and other technical means, and automatically switch to the “youth mode” for them.
Due to the non mandatory use, the specific settings of “youth mode” on various network platforms are not exactly the same. But it usually includes: enter or exit the mode, you need to enter a four digit password set in advance; after entering the “youth mode”, the cumulative duration of each use can not exceed 40 minutes; after 40 minutes, if you want to continue to use it, you need to enter the password again; in addition, if you want to use the short video app from 22:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. the next day, you must also enter the password. The above settings can effectively help parents control their children’s online time and duration.
In addition, the “youth mode” usually prohibits the use of the platform’s functions such as reward, recharge, cash withdrawal, live broadcast and opinion publishing. In terms of content, most of them are learning courses and popular science knowledge that are suitable for teenagers to watch.
Are all network platforms equipped with “firewall”?
It seems that the “youth mode” can indeed strengthen the protection of minor Internet users like a firewall. But the reporter also found in the investigation that although some online platforms have launched the “youth mode”, there are still many problems in the actual operation.
The reporter opened a widely used short video app and chose to enter the youth mode, but soon found the content that was obviously not suitable for young people to watch. The screen was full of pornography, and the five characters of “youth mode” at the bottom were in vain. The app has been downloaded 380 million times in the mobile app mall, ranking third in the download list.
Wang Sixin, member of “source news” expert database of China Association for science and technology, Professor of Communication University of China and vice president of Beijing Network Law Research Association: this kind of standard (youth model) is not a compulsory standard now, it is just an advocacy. It needs time, energy, financial resources and material resources. In the case that it has not become a mandatory standard or dispensable, I can not really do these things, or I can only meet the requirements of the regulatory authorities in form.
In addition to the lax content control of some platforms, there are also technical loopholes in some applications of “youth mode”. Reporter search found that on the Internet about how to crack the “youth mode” posts are not a few. If the app is unloaded and reloaded and in tourist mode, all contents can be unlocked. The reporter detected a number of applications and found that the vulnerability was widespread. Only one short video app successfully avoided this problem.
Another big vulnerability of the platform is the password problem. The password set by “youth mode” is usually only four digits, and the password will not be “locked after multiple wrong input”, which means that users can guess the password repeatedly and unlock it.

Lin Ruijie, member of “source news” expert database of China Association for science and technology and deputy director of Internet and software department of Taier terminal Laboratory of Chinese Academy of information technology: we suggest that enterprises solve the problem of teenagers’ mode login verification through biometric and digital recognition technologies such as face recognition and fingerprint recognition.
Experts also pointed out that even if one app is limited to 40 minutes, the total time of surfing the Internet is still uncontrollable due to the superposition of multiple apps in the mobile phone, which is difficult to fundamentally solve the problem of teenagers’ addiction to the Internet.
Lin Ruijie, member of “source news” expert database of China Association for science and technology and deputy director of Internet and software department of Taier terminal Laboratory of Chinese Academy of information and communications: first of all, the usage duration of a single app needs to be shared, and there needs to be a platform to summarize and control the information. The second is that we can personalize the app duration that needs to be counted through the “parent’s client”, trigger an alarm, and (parents) can control and block it remotely.
Can some of the restricted functions still be used in “youth mode”?
In addition to the above loopholes, the reporter found in the detection of a music app that its “youth mode” only limited the live broadcast page, but did not take restrictive measures for online karaoke recording, comments and attention, original music community and other functions with social attributes.
In a social platform, the reporter found that under the “youth mode”, users can still pay attention to, comment on, and even enter the mall for consumption.
What are the common problems of “youth model”?
Internet information security experts pointed out that at present, there are four major problems in the “youth mode” of some platforms
It’s difficult to confirm the user’s identity, so you can extend the use time by repeatedly entering the password;
Some short video platforms are not strict with the content;
The real-time information pushed by some platforms does not match the “youth mode”;
Privacy protection is not perfect and user data is exposed.
What are the new laws and regulations to protect young Internet users?
According to the Research Report on Internet use of minors in China in 2019, 74% of Internet users have their own internet access devices, of which 63.6% have mobile phones. In order to strengthen the protection of them, not long ago, China revised the minors protection law for the third time and added a special chapter of “network protection”.
The first paragraph of Article 74 of the new law on the protection of minors, which will come into effect on June 1, 2021, stipulates that no enterprise shall provide products and services that induce addiction. The second paragraph of Article 74 stipulates that the network service providers of “online games, online live broadcasting, online audio and video, online social networking, etc.” shall set up the functions of “time management, authority management, consumption management, etc.” for minors to use their services.
Article 71 stipulates that guardians should improve their network literacy, regulate their own use of the Internet, and then guide and supervise minors’ use of the Internet. Guardians should install network protection software for minors, choose suitable service mode and management function, etc.
Wang Sixin, member of “source news” expert database of China Association for science and technology, Professor of Communication University of China and vice president of Beijing Internet Law Research Association: we should prevent Internet services from providing commercial services, form data kidnapping and social kidnapping for minors and teenagers, and let minors form some bad Internet habits. So we don’t mean to let him not use it or use it less, but to let him know how to use it. The other is to let him control the use of it and let him become the master of all kinds of Internet services, not the slave of Internet services.