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Stricter limits on minors' online gaming

By Li Hongyang | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-31 06:45
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Companies ordered to give children access for only three hours a week

The National Press and Publication Administration has tightened requirements for online game companies to limit service hours for minors and strictly implement rules that users register with real names, aiming to stop children overindulging and protect their health.

A notice issued by the administration requires the companies to allow minors to play only from 8 pm to 9 pm on Fridays, weekends and official holidays, with no access permitted at other times.

The notice added that publication management departments at all levels in the country should strengthen supervision and inspection and punish online game companies that violate the rules.

The latest notice further cut the time allowed for online games compared with one released in 2019 because quite a lot of parents said the previous standards were loose, the administration told Xinhua News Agency on Monday.

In 2019, the administration said online game companies could provide no more than one and a half hours of service to minors on ordinary days, with the limit set at no more than three hours on official holidays.

Allowing less time for online games will help guide minors to physical exercise and social activities that are better for study and health, the administration said.

"We leave one hour for minors to play online games because some teachers and parents said that they understand and accept minors' moderate exposure to the games, especially healthy ones including sports games, programming and chess," it said.

"The notice is aimed only at online games. As for healthy offline ones, parents and their children can decide the time themselves."

Online games should not be offered to those who haven't registered with real names in any form, including visitor experience mode, the notice said.

In the past few years, the administration has set up an online game real-name verification system that required all online game companies to only allow access to users who registered with real names.

However, some minors have used their parents' identity information or purchased adult identities to play online games without having to abide by time limits.

The administration said parents and schools urgently need to manage minors' game accounts and educate them about related laws and regulations.

"They are prone to overuse online games and even become addicted," it said. "Teenagers are the future of a country. Protecting their physical and mental health is vital."

The administration inspected tens of thousands of games last year, investigated thousands of problems and dealt with more than 50 enterprises where they were found.

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