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Online gaming addiction: China restricts minors to three hours of play per week

On Fridays, weekends and holidays, minors may only play between 8-9pm

online-game Image: Pixabay

If you’re below the age of 18 in China, you will now have a limit to the amount of time you can play online video games on your off-days. Chinese regulators have cut the amount of time to about three hours a week for most weeks of the year, restricting gaming platforms to offering online gaming to minors only during the 8-9pm windows on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.

State news agency Xinhua reported the news citing a notice by the National Press and Publication Administration.

This is not the first time China has sought to restrict the amount of time children spend on videogames: The new regulations are in fact an extension of earlier limits set in 2019. That year, regulators set rules that required all online game user accounts to register with their real names using valid identity information—with a one-hour limit of play for guest players who did not want to log in. The rules also barred game companies from letting minors play between the hours of 10pm-8am—and set a daily limit of 13 hours per day on statutory holidays and 1.5 hours on other days.

The rules accompany a growing crackdown by China on tech companies. Tencent, China’s most valuably publicly-traded company, happens to be the world’s largest video game vendor.

Tencent had earlier rushed to respond to mounting criticism after a state-run newspaper called video games “spiritual opium” and named a Tencent game that had players gaming for as much as eight hours a day. Tencent Holdings shares’ subsequently dropped by 7 per cent the next day. The report noted that “62.5 per cent of underage Internet users in the country often play games online”. The company on August 3 said it would limit gaming time for minors and ban children under the age of 12 from making in-game purchases.

By the end of 2020, China’s gaming industry brought in about $43.2 billion worth of revenue, up 20.71 per cent from the previous year, according to a report by the China Internet Network Information Center. The number of online game users was a staggering 518 million.