China has imposed tough new rules governing how much time children in that country can play video games.

A statement from the Chinese media watchdog – the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) – that was posted by state news agency Xinhua on Monday, revealed the extent of Beijing’s clampdown on children.

Online gamers under the age of 18 are now banned from playing on weekdays, and are limited to playing online to just three hours most weekends.

Gaming restrictions

This is a significant escalation of the restrictions on the country’s massive gaming industry, as well as the country’s youngsters.

From this week, children will be allowed only an hour of play time between 8pm and 9pm on Friday, weekends and public holidays.

Previously, children in China were restricted by the NPPA in 2019, to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends.

Chinese officials are justifying the draconian restrictions, saying it will help prevent young people becoming addicted to video games.

The NPPA noted this week that the rules were being issued “at the beginning of the new [school] term, putting specific requirements for preventing the addiction to online games, and protecting the healthy growth of minors.”

At a news conference Monday, a spokesperson for the NPPA was quoted by CNN as saying that the strict new curbs were in response to complaints from parents.

Addicted children?

“Many parents said that teenagers’ addiction to online games seriously affected their studies, and physical and mental health, leading to a series of social problems, making many parents suffer,” said the unidentified representative, according to a report by Xinhua.

It should be remembered that the Chinese government has already implemented a registration system.

This require people who played computer games to do so under their real names, allowing companies to check up on them.

This week, it reiterated that policy, with the NPPA noting that “online game enterprises shall not provide game services in any form … to users who have not registered or logged in with their real names.”

China clampdowns

Clampdowns and strict rules in China are of course nothing new.

In 2019 for example China enacted a law that requires individuals to have their faces scanned when purchasing a SIM card, to ensure mobile users could be identified.

The country has also forced through a draconian security law in Hong Kong in 2020, which the British government said violated its Joint Declaration agreement between the two countries.

The law bans any activity Beijing deems to constitute sedition, secession and subversion, and allows Chinese state security to operate in the territory.

Earlier this month China approved sweeping new rules that to govern the collection and use of people’s personal data going forward. Essentially this law prohibits “illegally collecting, using, processing, transmitting, disclosing and trading people’s personal information.”

China has also recently clamped down on private enterprises and companies in the country, which has impacted some of the country’s public figures.

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma for example disappeared from the public eye for months last year, after he publicly hit out at China’s regulatory system in a speech that put him on a collision course with Beijing.

In June China’s central bank urged banks and payment firms to crack down harder on cryptocurrency trading.

This is part of China’s ongoing crackdown on the banking and crypto-mining industry.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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