Chil­dren’s ban can help curb fears over in­ter­net ad­dic­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By SHI JING in Shang­hai

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Gam­ing ad­dic­tion has be­come a se­ri­ous con­cern for young play­ers and has forced Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd to act.

Chil­dren un­der the age of 12 will only be al­lowed to play its mega-hit, Honor of Kings, for just one hour each day. They will also be banned from log­ging on af­ter 9 pm.

Ju­ve­niles be­tween the ages of 12 to 18 will only have ac­cess for two hours in a trial pro­gram rolled out by Ten­cent to com­bat on­line depen­dence.

Un­der­age play­ers who ex­ceed their time al­lowance will au­to­mat­i­cally be logged off.

“Ad­dic­tion to any­thing will bring in prob­lems. We have to do some­thing to pre­vent teenagers in­dulging them­selves in the game. To pro­tect chil­dren is to pro­tect the game,” said Li Min, de­vel­oper of Honor of Kings.

To en­force the ban, the com­pany will tighten up its real -name reg­is­tra­tion sys­tem to pre­vent young play­ers fak­ing iden­ti­ties.

Back in Fe­bru­ary, Ten­cent rolled out a “pro­tec­tion plat­form” to help par­ents su­per­vise their chil­dren’s game ac­counts.

Since then, the com­pany has up­dated the pro­gram and con­nected it to 700,000 ac­counts, cov­er­ing 200 games, in­clud­ing Honor of Kings.

Still, Ten­cent’s de­ci­sion to bring in tighter con­trols came af­ter the Peo­ple’s Daily crit­i­cized the game’s neg­a­tive im­pact on un­der­age play­ers Hono­rofKings. ear­lier this week. The news­pa­per also called on the com­pany to make greater ef­forts to solve this prob­lem.

The mar­ket re­sponded in­stantly. Ten­cent’s share price dropped 4.13 per­cent on Tues­day on the Hang Seng In­dex in Hong Kong.

It was the on­line com­pany’s largest one-day loss this year, par­ing HK$109.9 bil­lion ($14 bil­lion) off its mar­ket value.

But Zhang Shule, a se­nior in­de­pen­dent game in­dus­try an­a­lyst, felt there was no rea­son for in­vestors to panic.

Claims that these games can be ad­dic­tive were lev­eled at Le­gend in 2004 and World of War­craft in 2009, he claimed. His­tory, he pointed out, just re­peats it­self.

“Con­dem­na­tion is not a so­lu­tion,” Zhang said. “The teenagers who were ob­sessed with World of War­craft 10 years ago have not turned out to be a beaten gen­er­a­tion.

“Man­age­ment su­per­vi­sion is in­dis­pens­able, but it’s un­nec­es­sary to fo­cus too much on one sim­ple case,” he added. “In­stead, we should come out with some healthy prod­ucts that can at­tract chil­dren’s at­ten­tion.”

Up to 70 per­cent of the play­ers on Honor of Kings are of­fice work­ers, with an­other 25 per­cent uni­ver­sity stu­dents, sta­tis­tics re­leased by mo­bile data-ser­vice plat­form Talk­ingData in Bei­jing showed.

Ju­ve­nile play­ers make up only 3 per­cent of to­tal users.

Yet Pony Ma, founder of Ten­cent, has made it clear that the com­pany has a duty to pre­vent chil­dren from get­ting ad­dicted to the in­ter­net.

“Chil­dren who are overly ob­sessed with the in­ter­net usu­ally strug­gle to com­mu­ni­cate with their par­ents,” Ma said.

“This ends up lead­ing them to the vir­tual world . . . and turn­ing away from so­ci­ety,” he added.

LONG WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A cray­fish restau­rant in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, gives din­ers the chance to link up with master gamers to help them play

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

A child plays a mo­bile game in Dezhou, Shan­dong prov­ince.

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