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China tightens limits for young gamers and bans school night play

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China tightens limits for young gamers and bans school night play

China’s strict limits on how long minors can play online video games have just gotten tighter. Chinese children and teens are banned from online gaming during school days, and limited to one hour on weekends and holiday evenings under government rules released on Monday.

Rules issued by the National Press and Publication Administration tightened restrictions from 2019 on the government aimed at the growing crisis of online game addiction among school children. Under the old rules, players under the age of 18 were restricted to no more than 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours a day on weekends.

The administration said parents had complained that it was too liberal and was implemented carelessly. The new rule sets the allowed gameplay hours to 8 to 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The government said it would increase oversight to ensure that gaming companies were enforcing the ban.

In an online question-and-answer explanation about the new rules, the administration said, “Recently, many parents have reported that sports addiction in some youth and children is seriously affecting their general studies, life, and mental and physical health.” doing harm.” The parents had sought “further restrictions and reductions in the time provided for minors by online gaming services.”

The new rules also reflect the government’s intense pressure for companies, which the Chinese Communist Party says have unhealthy implications, especially among teenagers and children.

“Some teenage children won’t listen to their parent’s discipline, and this policy can control them,” said Lily Feng, a company employee in Shenzhen, southern China. She said her 10-year-old daughter was less interested in online games than Douyin, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok, but added that the new limits set a good example. “I think it’s the right policy; it’s the equivalent of a state taking care of our children for us.”

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Last week, the Chinese government launched a crackdown on teen celebrity worship and fan clubs, warning that celebrities’ pursuit of online followers was tarnishing the value of youth. China’s cyberspace administration on Friday banned ranking celebrities based on popularity.

Online gaming has been one of the most vibrant and profitable sectors of China’s Internet industry, generating billions in revenue from players paying to participate in online discoveries, wars and adventures. But there are signs of growing official pressure on companies to act more strictly in line with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s demands for cultural conformity.

China’s education ministry in April ordered online gaming companies to ensure that minors cannot play after 10 p.m. every school night. In early August, the stock prices of Tencent Holdings and other large Chinese video game companies fell sharply after a Chinese newspaper called their products “spiritual opium”. The article mentions Tencent, which owns “Honor of Kings”, a hugely popular game in China.

A report released in August by the government-funded Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Center said Chinese parents complained that children constantly looked for new ways to exceed the gaming hours limit. Many parents, the report said, “reported that there were major changes in their temperament and personality after their children became addicted to the sport, even as they became another person.”

Tencent, which had already reduced the amount of spending by minors on “Honor of the Kings,” said it would comply with the new restrictions. In its latest financial disclosures, the company said that in the second quarter of 2021, players under the age of 16 accounted for just 2.6 percent of their gross receipts for China gaming.

“Since 2017, Tencent has explored and implemented various new technologies and actions to protect minors,” a Tencent spokesperson said in a statement. “This will continue, as Tencent strictly adheres to and actively implements the latest requirements of the Chinese authorities.”

Raymond Zhong contributed reporting. Liu Yi contributed to the research.

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