Science

Chinese government trims kids’ online gaming time from 1.5 hours a day to just three hours a week

China has announced that children can only play online video games for three hours a week, a further crackdown from earlier regulations limiting play time to 1.5 hours a day.

Gaming companies can now only welcome minors between 8 and 9pm on Fridays, weekends and public holidays, Bloomberg News reported.

Internet addiction is considered a clinical disorder in China, with an increasing number of young people choosing to ignore studies, socializing and family to surf the web or play online games. 

In 2019, Beijing initially banned children from playing online games for more than 1.5 hour a day and any time after 10pm.

Authorities are now also asking companies to keep keeping users’ names and other data, be more transparent about in-game transactions and link titles to anti-gaming addiction programs, according to Engadget.

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New regulations in China limit children’s amount of online gaming to just three hours a week, down from 1.5 hours a day

The crackdown aims to address what Beijing sees as a growing epidemic of gaming addiction among young people.

As far back as 2008, the Chinese Ministry of Health began viewing internet addiction as a clinical disorder, marked by staying online for more than six hours a day and having adverse reactions to not being online.

A 2018 report published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions found nearly 12 percent of Chinese university students had Internet Addiction Disorder, which it called an impulse control disorder, ‘similar to eating disorders, pathological gambling… and other addictions.’

According to the China’s General Administration of Press and Publication, 14 percent of Chinese minors, including 33 million of those under the age of 16, are obsessed with the Internet. 

According to the Chinese government, 14 percent of Chinese children, including 33 million of those under the age of 16, are obsessed with the Internet

According to the Chinese government, 14 percent of Chinese children, including 33 million of those under the age of 16, are obsessed with the Internet

In 2019, Eastern Zhejiang proposed making primary school children go to bed by 9pm, even if they hadn’t finished their homework. Middle-school kids could stay up to 10pm.

According to the original gaming edict, users under 16 couldn’t play games for more than an hour-and-a-half a day on a school night or three hours a day on weekends or official state holidays. 

And gaming between 10pm and 8am was strictly off limits for youngsters.

Gamers have to register their personal details with service providers before being allowed to play and children under 8 are barred from playing games that require cash payment.

For those between the ages of eight and 16, a monthly cap of about $30 was instituted in 2019, along with a single-transaction limit of about $7.

Adult players are not allowed to spend $60 a month on one game or $15 per session.

China has more than 800 million internet users, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, and 29 million of them are under the age of 10. 

Young addicts can spend up to 17 hours online and even wear diapers so they don’t have to take bathroom breaks. 

China has more than 800 million internet users, 29 million of them under the age of 10

  China has more than 800 million internet users, 29 million of them under the age of 10

COVID-19 lockdowns only increased gaming worldwide: In the US over half of Americans said they turned to video games out of boredom, according to Super Data, resulting in a $139 billion in profits for 2020—a 12 percent increase from 2019. 

Other efforts to address gaming addiction in China have been more controversial: In 2017, a teen died several days after being sent to an internet-addiction treatment center in the eastern province of Anhui.

These digital detox clinics have been compared to boot camps with harsh, military-style tactics, the BBC News reported.  

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