China Imposes Gaming Curfew on Minors to Curb Video Game Addiction

Underage gamers will be banned from playing online games between 10 pm and 8 am, and will be restricted to 90 minutes on weekdays.

by Lia Savillo
08 November 2019, 9:05am

Photo by Fredrick Tendong on Unsplash

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.

When you go for hours playing online games that you forget to eat and sleep, something is clearly amiss.

This phenomenon has affected minors globally and China wants to put a stop to it locally. The government announced in a document issued by China's General Administration of Press and Publication on November 5 that they would implement a curfew on online gaming for minors as a way to curb video game addiction, CNN reported.

Underage gamers will be banned from playing online games between 10 pm and 8 am while allowable playing time will be restricted to 90 minutes on weekdays and up to three hours per day on weekends and public holidays.

The guidelines of China’s gaming regulations also placed a limit on the online spend of minors in the games. Gamers aged between eight and 16 years old can only top up 200 Chinese yuan ($29) per month, while the maximum amount for those between 16 and 18 will be 400 Chinese yuan ($57).

The new rules also require all gamers to use their real names to register with supporting details such as their WeChat account, phone number or ID number to sign up.

The government has aimed to clamp down on all online gaming platforms operating in the country, including Tencent, the world's biggest gaming company.

Tencent responded to China’s criticisms in February by limiting game time to one hour per day for users under 12 and two hours per day for users between 12 and 18. They also started requiring users to prove their age and identity.

China’s total gaming revenue reached an estimate of $36.5 billion so far this year, making it the second largest gaming market, next to the United States.

The National Press and Publication Administration said in a statement that was published by the Xinhua News Agency that the new rules were aimed at "protecting the physical and mental health of minors” to create a "clear internet space.”

The officials also expressed the need for government units to study the rules and ensure corporations abide by the requirements, adding that they would be working with the police to set up a real-name registration system to enable gaming companies to check the identity of their users against the national database.

These regulations are China's latest move to increase the regulation of the gaming industry. Just last year, they announced they would limit the new releases of games in the country to "reduce nearsightedness in children and adolescents."

In June 2018, the World Health Organization listed gaming addiction, officially known as Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) as a mental health condition. According to the organization, the condition is diagnosed when an online gamer plays compulsively to the point of disregarding other interests, including school and family life.

Aside from China, other countries have identified excessive gaming as a major public health issue, with some even establishing private addiction clinics to treat the condition.

Conversion rate: 1 Chinese Yuan = $ 0.14

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