China cuts online gaming for under-18s to 1 hour a day on Fridays, weekends & public holidays

The harsher restrictions are intended to "protect the physical and mental health of minors".

Lean Jinghui | August 31, 2021, 01:45 PM

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Online gamers in China under the age of 18 will not be allowed to play during the school week, and can only do so for one hour a day on Fridays, weekends and public holidays from Sep. 1, 2021.

According to state-run media Xinhua, China's National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) released a notice on Monday, Aug. 30, on the latest measure.

Only between 8pm-9pm

According to the document, online game providers can only offer one-hour services to minors from 8pm to 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as on official holidays.

The notice also stated that companies must strictly implement a real-name registration and login system in their games, and not provide any form of game service to users who are unregistered.

The harsher restrictions are intended to "protect the physical and mental health of minors" and fight youth video game addiction, said the document.

BBC reported that a month prior to the latest restrictions, an article published by China's Economic Information Daily had claimed that many teenagers were becoming addicted to online gaming, and it was having a negative impact on them.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the piece also called online gaming "spiritual opium", and called out Tencent Holdings, China's largest video game operator, as a source of the problem.

While enforcement measures were not clearly delineated, NPPA said in the document that inspections of online gaming companies will increase, to ensure compliance with the new regulations.

Earlier in 2019, China had banned video games for those under the age of 18 after 10pm, and restricted gaming time to 90 minutes on weekdays.

Responses to the new regulation

According to Reuters, some users on China's social media platform, Weibo, have expressed support for the restrictions, while others expressed surprise at the "fierceness" of the rules, referring to their strictness:

"This is so fierce that I'm utterly speechless."

SCMP reported that on Aug. 30, the gaming unit of Tencent had demonstrated support for the new regulation in an official statement, saying that it will implement the new requirements as soon as possible.

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