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Chinese govt sees threat of addiction among nation’s teen gamers, sets out new restrictions on when under-18s can play online

In a notice on Monday, the State Press and Publication Administration detailed the new rules which cut the length of time minors in China can legally play online video games – even on their phones. The regulator’s notice begins by acknowledging that the country has a problem of excessive use “or even addiction” to online games by minors, which has had a “negative impact on normal life, learning and healthy growth.”

The new restrictions, set to take effect from September 1, state that online gaming companies can only provide services to minor users in one-hour increments, from 8pm to 9pm China Standard Time on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays.

Along with the time limits for online gaming, the rules introduce additional measures including requiring a real-name verification system for gamers to register.

The previous video-game addiction rules allowed minors no more than 90 minutes of gaming on weekdays and three hours per day on the weekend.

In a state media Q&A about the new rules, the Chinese State Press and Publication Administration said game companies are “the main body of anti-addiction work” and must “always put social benefits first”.

“Every generation of teenagers will have their own games. Online games are highly interactive, immersive, and highly emulated,” an official from the agency told Xinhua, when outlining the impetus for the additional restrictions.

“Minors are still in the stage of physical and mental development, and their self-control ability is relatively weak. They are prone to over-use online games and even become dependent.”

Alongside the efforts of government and industry to address gaming addiction via tighter regulation, families and schools also have a role to play in helping children to “form good online habits,” the official added. 

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