China’s chil­dren given video game cur­few

Gov­ern­ment health push bans gamers un­der the age of 18 from ac­cess­ing on­line plat­forms, 10pm to 8am

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Sophia Yan in Bei­jing

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.

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