ByteDance has a new TikTok for its users designed for children in China but there's a catch. They can only use the app 40 minutes a day.

On Saturday, the Beijing-based company released a statement explaining its decision to create a strictly limited version of its popular app. According to the statement, it was designed to "further increase the protection of young people" on the platform while still providing quality content for users.

Under the new version of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTk, authenticated users under the age of 14 will be automatically registered into the youth mode. Beyond the daily time limit, the new version is locked from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. the following day. Parents will be encouraged to help register their children with the app using real names, or otherwise manually enable "teenage mode."

It is an open question about how this requirement can be worked around, such as through a fake name or account. ByteDance has not explained yet how it would prevent this or enforce its registration requirements for teens.

In its announcement, ByteDance said that the teenage version of Douyin would contain content that it gears specifically for youth. This includes popular science experiments, exhibitions in museums and galleries, and explanations of "historical knowledge" among others, according to the press release. It is the company's hope that its content will "arouse children's interest in a certain field" through its new material.

Douyin acknowledges that its system remains new and it may have some flaws, but says it is committed to providing quality content.

“Yes, we have become more strict with teenagers,” Douyin said in its statement. “At the same time, we will work harder to provide high-quality content so that teenagers can learn knowledge and see the world on Douyin.”

The definition of patriotism has changed under President Xi Jinping The definition of patriotism has changed under President Xi Jinping Photo: AFP / Anthony WALLACE

ByteDance has not fallen under the same recent regulatory pressure as other technology companies in China, but it comes at a time when authorities appear focused on shaping the next generation of youth.

To this end, China has enacted new laws that limit children's video game usage during the school week and regulations that deal with “effeminate styles” for youth in its media. The latter was being discouraged in favor of traditional, “revolutionary or ‘advanced socialist’ culture” that is not “unhealthy” for Chinese society.

All of these developments take place against the backdrop of President Xi Jinping’s ongoing efforts to reinvigorate the Chinese Communist Party’s role across society.

ByteDance’s decision is happening in parallel with national conversations about the negative social costs for children who use social media.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook’s Instagram conducted some internal research that found its platform can deepen depression in some teenagers, especially girls. As a result, Instagram’s algorithm would be reconfigured to monitor teens’ use of the platform and where necessary, guide them away from harmful content. It has also announced plans for its own “youth version.”

Members of the U.S. Congress balked at the proposal, arguing that Facebook should call off its plans because it could not be trusted to guarantee a safe space for teenagers. Facebook has slammed the WSJ’s reporters for “deliberately mischaracterizing” and accused them of holding “false motives” behind their own work.

TikTok's branch in the U.S. has moved to tackle this problem by incorporating new features to help the mental health of its users.  Users will be able to access well-being resources, expanded search interventions on mental health keywords, to a support guide for eating disorders and upgraded “sensitive content” warnings on the platform.