The world’s largest video game market, China, has announced a new policy that limits under 18 online gamers to only three hours of play per week.
This was announced last week by China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), the agency responsible for regulating video games in the country. The policy that took effect from September 1 2021, restricts online gaming for those under age 18 to one hour in the evening on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.
Earlier policies by the Chinese government in 2019 limited minors to one hour and a half of gaming time a day and three hours on weekends.
China set these new rules over years of worry over an alarming number of young gamers getting addicted to video games.
They also cited the negative effects these games have on the eye sight of children as high cases of short sightedness are reported. Due to these, treatment centres have been set up to cater to people thought to have redeveloped ‘gaming disorders’.
The policy places the responsibility of it’s implementation on the gaming industry and does not include any specific punishment for individuals who do not comply to these rules.
The NPPA said online gaming companies will now have to prove they have effective identification systems in place. This will require minors to provide their real names and national identification numbers to sign in to play.
They also noted that most minors used the credentials of their adult family members to sign in previously which was against the current and already existing rules.
The agency said it will increase the intensity of their inspections and also met out severe punishment to the gaming companies who fail to enforce these limits. Before this policy, a Chinese gaming company in 2017 took the lead to restrict the play time of their young online players after concerns raised by parents and teachers indicated that the games were affecting children’s physical and mental health.
Reports by the China’s state media show that 62.5% of their minors play online games often and about 13% of them play for more than two hours a day including weekdays. This, upon further studies may reveal, is not a peculiar problem to China but many nations worldwide. The question here is: Is the policy necessary and would it work in other parts of the world, especially Ghana?
The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story.