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China Imposes Strict Restrictions on Children’s Game Time

Credit: Unsplash

Speaking as someone who plays a borderline unhealthy amount of video games on a daily basis, I do understand the desire to limit children’s access to gaming. I admit, I do kind of wish I’d dialed it back a bit as a kid (though now that I’m an adult, I’ll play as many games as I darn well please, thank you). That said, such a duty is really more of a parent’s purview, rather than a government’s, which is why China’s newest restriction is a bit off-putting.

The Chinese government has announced that, starting September 1, Chinese children under the age of 18 will only be permitted three hours of online gaming per week, and only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and certain public holidays. The government is requiring that Chinese-owned online game companies like Tencent enforce this new policy, shuttering their servers to minors during non-gaming hours. All Chinese online game companies will also be required to have users sign up with their real names going forward, presumably to prevent minors from creating adult IDs to skirt the system.

This is the latest movement on the Chinese government’s part to curb online gaming addictions in its children. Chinese state-run publications have decried gaming as a hazardous practice to a child’s physical and mental health, with one going so far as to call it “spiritual opium.”

All of this said, if I know anything about children, it’s that they find ways to get the things they want. Many have already caught holes in the new policy; for one thing, it only applies to online games constantly connected to the internet, conspicuously leaving out offline and console-based games. It’s also not known whether foreign titles from companies not based in China will be required to comply.

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