China Bans Children from Playing Video Games More than 3 Hours a Week

A boy writes a Chinese character on his cellphone as he watches a TV programme called "hanzi yingxiong", Chinese characters hero, at his home in Beijing on August 23, 2013. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP via Getty Images)
STR/AFP via Getty Images

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s National Press and Publication Administration issued an edict on Monday banning Chinese citizens aged 18 years and younger from playing online video games for more than three hours per week.

“All online game companies” active on China’s heavily censored internet must “strictly limit the time for providing online game services to minors” starting September 1, according to the press release.

“Since the implementation of this notice, all online game companies can only provide minors with one-hour online game services from 20:00 [8:00 pm] to 21:00 [9:00 pm] on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays,” the agency outlined.

A child plays with a toy gun during a promotion for online games in Beijing on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. China is banning children from playing online games for more than three hours a week, the harshest restriction so far on the game industry as Chinese regulators continue cracking down on the technology sector. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

A child plays with a toy gun during a promotion for online games in Beijing on August 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The Communist Party agency said it decided to restrict children’s online video gaming access to “prevent minors from indulging in online games, and effectively protect the physical and mental health of minors.”

“Minors’ overuse or even indulging in online games has become a prominent problem, which has a negative impact on normal life, study, and healthy growth,” the agency stated.

To implement the new time limits, the agency will further require all online gaming companies in China to adopt a registration system that asks the user to submit his or her real name and other personal identification information. The Chinese government will verify this data through an existing repository of Chinese citizens’ personal information and track each user’s online time.

The new registration system is meant “to ensure minors don’t lie about their age,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) noted on Tuesday.

“On school holidays, children will be allowed to play a little longer, with the allocated time set at 60 minutes per day,” according to AFP.

The new verification system “means that you can only have one account associated with your real name,” TechCrunch observed on Monday, adding that communist internet monitors “will regularly check whether gaming companies comply with local regulation.”


This photo taken on January 29, 2018, shows students practicing computer games in an eSports class at the Lanxiang technical school in Jinan, in China’s eastern Shandong province. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

The online newspaper further noted that the new time restriction edict mentions “online gaming” specifically, “which could mean that solo games won’t be restricted going forward. Similarly, it’s unclear whether console games and foreign games will have to implement the new real-name-based registration system.”

“Some young gamers will also be tempted to circumvent the restrictions by signing up on a foreign server,” TechCrunch speculated. Many Chinese citizens already use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to sidestep Communist Party restrictions placed elsewhere on China’s tightly controlled internet.


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