China will ban gamers under 18 from playing video games after 10 pm in order to curb a growing online addiction
- China's General Administration of Press and Publication on Tuesday introduced new gaming restrictions to tackle video game addiction among children.
- According to the notice, users under 18 will be banned from playing between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and will be restricted to only 90 minutes of gaming on the weekdays.
- A spokesperson for the agency told state news agency Xinhua that as the online gaming industry has boomed in the country in recent years, so has the prevalence of video game addiction.
- Last year, the World Health Organisation recognised video game addiction as a mental health condition.
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China is tackling a growing epidemic of video game addiction by proposing a curfew for its younger players and capping their gameplay at 90 minutes.
China's General Administration of Press and Publication on Tuesday released the new set of six guidelines, referred to as the "Notice on Preventing Minors from Indulging in Online Games." According to the notice, users under 18 will be banned from playing between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and will be restricted to only 90 minutes of gaming on the weekdays.
On weekends and public holidays, that cap is raised to 180 minutes.
The notice also places a limit on the amount of money children can spend making in-game purchases. Children aged eight to 16 can spend a maximum of 200 yuan (R422) per month, while those between 16 and 18 can spend double that amount.
The rules also require video game users to register for online gaming accounts using their real names alongside valid identification, call for strengthening oversight in the gaming industry, suggest revisiting the game rating systems and better adjusting them to appropriate age groups, and propose better guidelines for parents on how to manage their children's online game consumption.
A spokesperson for the agency told state news agency Xinhua that as the online gaming industry has boomed in the country in recent years, so has the prevalence of video game addiction.
"These problems affect the physical and mental health and normal learning and life of minors," they said.
The strict set of rules will apply to all online gaming companies and platforms that operate in the country, according to CNN.
According to market research firm Newzoo, China is currently the second-largest games market in the world behind the US, though the firm predicts China will reclaim first place in gaming market by revenue in 2020.
The prevalence of video gaming around the world led The World Health Organisation in 2018 to recognise video game addiction as a mental health condition. Xinhua reported in 2018 that one in five Chinese youth is addicted to online video games.
In extreme cases, gaming has been blamed for several deaths.
In 2007, a 26-year-old man in northern China named Zhang reportedly died after spending seven consecutive days playing video games. A 32-year old Taiwanese man was found dead in 2015 after playing video games for three days straight.
In 2018, a Chinese gamer was reportedly paralyzed after a 20-hour gaming marathon.
Last year, the country placed restrictions on gameplay, including limiting gaming time and imposing an age-appropriate rating system, in response to rising levels of near-sightedness among children, according to the BBC.
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