How gaming addiction disorder is forcing China to impose limits on game-time for minors

In China, people under 18 are having their gaming time cut to just three hours each week – one hour on Friday, one on Saturday, and one on Sunday, from 8 to 9 p.m. That’s according to the Chinese government, as reported by The South China Morning Post. The move enacts even stricter time limits on gaming time for kids in a country that already limits gaming time to just an hour and a half daily.

China’s biggest gaming companies, Tencent and NetEase, are imposing the restrictions directly through their respective login systems. Users are only able to log in using their real names, and all online games must be registered through China’s state-run anti-addiction program. The new rules, China’s government said, are intended to curb “gaming addiction.” 

“Teenagers are the future of our motherland,” Xinhua quoted an unnamed NPPA spokesperson as saying. “Protecting the physical and mental health of minors is related to the people’s vital interests, and relates to the cultivation of the younger generation in the era of national rejuvenation.”

Not a child’s play anymore

As a result, gaming companies will be barred from providing services to minors in any form outside the stipulated hours and must ensure they have put real-name verification systems in place, said the regulator, which oversees the country’s video games market.

Previously, China had limited the length of time under-18s could play video games to 1.5 hours on any day and three hours on holidays under 2019 rules. The new rules swiftly became one of the most discussed topics on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter. Some users expressed support for the measures while others said they were surprised at how drastic the rules were.

The World Health Organization first recognized an addictive behavior pattern known as “gaming addiction disorder” in 2018, and characterized someone suffering from the disorder as exhibiting, “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

Going by this, should the world follow China’s example given the rapid change in technology on a day-to-day basis or should we self-regulate and teach our kids to rationalise their time and balance their lives well? 

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Tejaswini Pagadala

Communications Consultant: TEJASWINI PAGADALA is an independent communications consultant. She has previously worked with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s Office as the Communications Officer where she has written English speeches for the CM, managed English media communication from the CMO and handled social media accounts of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and the Government.
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