China tightens limits for minors playing online games

Time limits for minors playing online video games in China just got tighter. The government banned online gaming for children and teenagers during school hours and limited it to one hour per day on weekends and holidays.

The National Press and Publication Administration tightened restrictions in 2019 to combat what the government called a growing school-based online game addiction epidemic. Under those rules, players under 18 could only play for 90 minutes during the week and three hours on weekends.

The administration said parents complained it was too generous and laxly enforced. As such, the new rule allows gaming from 8-9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The government said it would increase inspections to ensure gaming companies followed the rules.

“Recently many parents have reported that game addiction among some youths and children is seriously harming their normal study, life and mental and physical health,” stated the Administration about the new rules. Parents, it said, had demanded “further restrictions and reductions in the time provided for minors by online gaming services.”

The new rules also reflect the government’s increasing pressure on businesses to remove what the Chinese Communist Party says are harmful influences, particularly on teenagers and children. (Read: Start ’em young: Research says gaming may reduce depression in boys)

According to an August report by the government-funded Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center, Chinese parents complain that their kids constantly find new ways to game longer. Many parents reported their children’s behavior and personality changing after becoming addicted to games, the report stated.

Tencent, which already limited minors’ time on Honor of Kings, said it would follow the new rules. Children aged 16 and under accounted for just 2.6 percent of the company’s gross gaming revenue in China in the second quarter of 2021.

The company also said in a statement that it has been exploring and applying new technologies and functions to protect minors since 2017. “Tencent will continue to strictly follow and actively implement the latest Chinese authorities’ requirements.”

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