West News Wire: Children have another thing to look forward to as the week-long Lunar New Year festivities in China get closer with promises of feasts and red envelopes filled with money.
To combat “internet addiction,” Chinese officials have long pushed to limit the amount of time children can spend playing games online. Despite their claims of effectiveness in reducing the issue, they are not taking any chances.
Authorities in 2019 limited the amount of time that minors could play on weekdays to 90 minutes and forbade them from playing from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. They imposed even stricter limitations in 2021: Minors are only permitted to play online games for one hour daily, and only on Fridays, Saturdays, and Public Holidays. Game approvals were halted for eight months.
The Jan. 21-27 Lunar New Year holiday, China’s biggest festival, will give them four extra days for online gaming.
Many parents have lauded the restrictions, even as their children threw tantrums. Social media and games companies set up or strengthened “youth mode” settings on their apps meant to protect minors. They include features that limit use, control payments and display age-appropriate content. For some popular games, real-name registration and even facial recognition gateways have been implemented to prevent workarounds.
In November more than a year after the stricter game controls were introduced a government-affiliated industry group, Game Industry Group Committee, issued a report declared the gaming addiction problem among minors was “basically resolved,” even as the three-hour weekly limit for Friday, Saturday and Sunday stayed in place.
Overall, the Game Industry Group’s report said, more than 75% of minors in China played online games for less than three hours a week and most parents expressed satisfaction with the new restrictions.
A report by games market intelligence firm Niko Partners in September found that the number of youth gamers declined to 82.6 million in 2022 from its peak of 122 million in 2020 as a direct result of China’s regulations.