China solves childhood gambling addiction

China’s top gaming body claims to have ‘allayed’ concerns about video gaming addiction among children and teens.

In August 2021, China’s media watchdog (the National Press and Publication Administration, or NPPA) imposed strict new rules governing how long children in that country can play video games.

It restricted online gamers under the age of 18 from playing on weekdays, restricting them to playing online for just three hours on most weekends.

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Game Restrictions

This was a significant escalation of restrictions on the country’s huge gaming industry, as well as the country’s youth, at the time.

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

Chinese officials justified the draconian restrictions, saying it would help prevent young people from becoming addicted to video games. Previously, they also labeled video games as “spiritual opium.”

Concerns about the amount of children’s screen time had increased due to repeated Covid lockdowns and the move to online learning.

But now there are possible signs that Chinese authorities are willing to ease these restrictions, after research firm CNG along with the China Game Industry Group Committee, which is affiliated with the gaming publishing regulator, released a report on Tuesday detailing progress on reducing game addiction among people under the age of 18.

Tuesday’s CNG report said 75 percent of minors play games less than 3 hours a week and that the problem of underage gaming addiction has reached “a step toward resolution,” according to a CNBC translation.

According to CNBC, the CNG report also cited major Chinese gaming companies, including Tencent and NetEase, for taking positive steps to enforce protection of minors.

For example, both Tencent and NetEase reportedly use facial recognition to see if the person playing the game is an adult.

And as a sign that China may be easing its gaming restrictions, regulators approved a batch of 70 new games for release. In China, video games require approval to be published and monetized.

Last year, China stopped approving games in the summer and only started approving new games in April this year.

Observers say the move may be in response to China’s approaching winter, coupled with a spate of Covid cases in the country.

This means Chinese children are spending more time at home – and some parents have reportedly given them access to their accounts to keep them busy.

Chinese restrictions

Of course, China’s curtailments and restrictions are nothing new, and the country is known for its online firewall and internet restrictions.

For example, in 2019 China passed a law requiring individuals to have their face scanned when purchasing a SIM card to ensure mobile users can be identified.

The country also enforced a draconian security law in Hong Kong in 2020, which the British government said violated its joint statement between the two countries.

That law banned any activity Beijing deems sedition, sedition and subversion, and allowed Chinese state security to operate in the territory.

Last year, China also passed sweeping new rules for the collection and use of people’s personal data going forward. Essentially, this law prohibits “the illegal collection, use, processing, transmission, disclosure, and trade of people’s personal information.”

China has also suppressed private enterprises and companies in the country, which has affected a number of the country’s public figures.

China’s central bank in 2021 urged banks and payment firms to take a harder line on cryptocurrency trading.

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

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