China’s children given video game curfew
Government health push bans gamers under the age of 18 from accessing online platforms, 10pm to 8am
Youths in China are facing a curfew on online gaming as part of a government attempt to beat addictions and protect their physical and mental health. The Chinese government has banned under-18s from online gameplay between 10pm and 8am, and has also launched time and spending restrictions for children. Authorities require players to register with their real names and state identification numbers in China, the world’s biggest video game market.
CHINA is imposing a curfew for under18s in an attempt to curb online gaming addictions and “protect the physical and mental health of minors”.
Anyone under the age of 18 is now banned from playing games online between the hours of 10pm and 8am, and is restricted to 90 minutes a day, or up to three hours at weekends or on public holidays, according to a notice released by China’s Press and Publication Administration.
The government is also introducing a cap on how much people can spend on games – children under the age of eight can’t pay to play, while those aged eight to 16 are allowed to fork out up to 200 yuan (£22) per month, doubling to 400 yuan (£45) for those aged 16 to 18.
Authorities require players to register with their real names and state identification numbers in China, the world’s biggest video game market.
It’s a way for the government to enforce the rules, though Beijing says managing gaming requires cooperation with online gaming platforms, parents and schools.
All are needed “to help minors establish correct online game consumption concepts and behaviour habits”, a government spokesperson said on state media: “Without the supervision and support of guardians, the effective implementation of this system will inevitably be reduced.” The curfews apply specifically to online games played via computers, mobiles or tablets, which have begun replacing traditional video game consoles, such as Nintendo and Playstation, or Xbox.
Gaming providers who fail to comply could have their business licences revoked.
This is China’s latest move to rein in an online gaming explosion. Last year, the government started restricting the number of games that could be played online and limiting new releases to combat myopia in children and teenagers. The move also reflects broader concerns that millions of young Chinese people are becoming addicted to gambling, which is illegal in China.
But it is unclear how effective the real-name tracking system will be, as many children already swipe their relatives’ information to register for games and skirt age restrictions.
The new rules have drawn a mixed response. “It’s very necessary!” wrote one user online. “It would be harmful for children’s health if they stay up too late.”
Another complained: “What’s the problem with 16-year-olds playing some game after school at 10pm? Or are we supposed to do maths all the time?”
Another claimed it was easy to obtain fake ID numbers online and that gamers would just use these to create their accounts.
China’s massive £23 billion online gaming industry has previously tried to introduce playing restrictions for children. In 2017, under pressure from local authorities, Tencent’s hit game Honour of Kings began cross-checking players’ real names with police data to curb playing time for younger players. Additional reporting by Yiyin Zhong.