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Protection for minors given a legal boost

This undated photo shows a boy playing games on a laptop in Shanghai. (WANG GANG / FOR CHINA DAILY)

Comprehensive measures to intensify online protection for juveniles and prevent internet addiction will be promoted by an amended law from Tuesday, which is International Children's Day.

With more youngsters becoming addicted to online games and short videos, the revised Minors Protection Law requires people from all walks of life, including parents, schools and social institutions, to take preventive measures to stop internet addiction causing physical or mental harm to young people.

What we want is to strongly safeguard the legitimate rights of those under the age of 18 and try our best to offer them a healthy environment in which to grow through the diversified measures in the amended law.

Guo Linmao, a member of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress

"What we want is to strongly safeguard the legitimate rights of those under the age of 18 and try our best to offer them a healthy environment in which to grow through the diversified measures in the amended law," said Guo Linmao, a member of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

He made the remarks in a group interview last week, noting the revised law includes a new chapter on cyberspace protection to clarify each entity's responsibilities.

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Liu Bin, another commission member, highlighted the importance of protecting children, saying "it is a joint responsibility of all sectors of society, no matter whether it's offline or online".

"We fully respected children's rights to take part in social activities and paid attention to their development demands when revising the law," he said. "In other words, we couldn't restrict their access to the internet just because their self-control is weak or because they are not good at discriminating between online information."

The amended law achieves its goals by specifying the responsibilities and duties of the State, government departments, schools, families and online service providers, aiming to guide juveniles to surf the internet in a civilized manner and protect their rights through joint efforts.

For example, it stipulates that children's parents or other guardians should first enhance their own legal awareness of surfing the internet and then help and supervise children's behavior in cyberspace.

While demanding parents or other guardians install software on mobile phones or computers to protect children from harmful online content, it also requires adults to manage the time adolescents spend online to ensure they do not overindulge.

Internet operators should not provide products or services that make such overindulgence easy, it said, ordering those engaged in the provision of services such as online games, livestreaming and short videos to set up time limit, rights management and consumption functions specifically for juvenile users.

Furthermore, educational product or service suppliers can neither offer links to online games nor provide advertisements or other information not relevant to teaching, it said.

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To ensure effective implementation of the law, Guo said a more specific regulation drafted by government agencies under the State Council and widely reviewed by people from many walks of life will be unveiled at an appropriate time.

The law also requires the establishment of a searchable national database listing those found guilty of sexually assaulting, abusing, abducting or violently attacking juveniles to prevent them from working in schools, kindergartens, educational institutions, medical service centers, child support agencies and departments dealing with minors.

A revised Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency Law also came into effect on Tuesday, with a greater focus on scientific methods of rehabilitating misbehaving children and building special schools to help young offenders correct their ways.

caoyin@chinadaily.com.cn