China’s Radio and Television Authority has released new rules for broadcasting on the internet: children under the age of 16 are now banned from making donations to streamers and watching live broadcasts after 10pm.
Sending money, more specifically virtual gifts that can then be exchanged for money, to streamers is a common practice. And now platforms that organize broadcasts on the Internet are being ordered to ban users under the age of 16 from buying and sending such gifts.
The regulator justified the next tightening of the regulatory framework with the fact that live broadcasts, to whose authors money is sent, endanger the mental and physical health of underage viewers. This isn’t the first time Beijing has restricted streaming: last July, children under the age of 16 were banned from appearing on live video broadcasts, and minors were also banned from being coaxed into material income over the internet.
China’s streaming market has been booming since the pandemic began, with real-time online sales dubbed “live commerce” becoming a trend. People started buying products offered during popular shows – sometimes they lasted for hours. The trend has been embraced by both individual influencers and major platforms, including Alibaba’s Taobao, ByteDance’s Kuaishou, Pinduoduo and Douyin (TikTok).