China is barring gamers under 18 from playing video games after 10 p.m., a move meant to curb a growing addiction

A gamer playing online games at an internet cafe in Taiyuan, in China's Shanxi province, in 2010.

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A gamer playing online games at an internet cafe in Taiyuan, in China’s Shanxi province, in 2010.
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REUTERS/Stringer

  • China’s General Administration of Press and Publication on Tuesday introduced new gaming restrictions meant to tackle video game addiction among children.
  • According to the notice, users under 18 will be barred from playing between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and will be restricted to only 90 minutes of gaming on the weekdays.
  • A representative for the agency told the state news agency Xinhua that as the online gaming industry had boomed in the country in recent years, so had the prevalence of video game addiction.
  • Last year, the World Health Organization recognized video game addiction as a mental-health condition.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China is tackling a growing problem of video game addiction by introducing a curfew for its younger players and capping their gameplay time.

China’s General Administration of Press and Publication on Tuesday released the new set of six guidelines, referred to as the “Notice on Preventing Minors from Indulging in Online Games.” According to the notice, users under 18 will be barred from playing between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and will be restricted to only 90 minutes of gaming on the weekdays.

On weekends and public holidays, that cap is raised to 180 minutes.

The notice also places a limit on the amount of money children can spend making in-game purchases. Children ages 8 to 16 can spend a maximum of 200 yuan, or $29, a month, while those ages 16 to 18 can spend double that amount.

The rules also require video game users to register for online gaming accounts using their real names alongside valid identification, call for strengthening oversight in the gaming industry, suggest revisiting the game rating systems and better adjusting them to appropriate age groups, and propose better guidelines for parents on how to manage their children’s online game consumption.

A representative for the agency told the state news agency Xinhua that as the online gaming industry had boomed in the country in recent years, so had the prevalence of video game addiction.

“These problems affect the physical and mental health and normal learning and life of minors,” the person said.

The strict set of rules will apply to all online gaming companies and platforms that operate in the country, according to CNN.

According to the market-research firm Newzoo, China is the second-largest games market in the world behind the US, though the firm predicts China will claim first place in gaming market by revenue next year.

The prevalence of video gaming around the world led the World Health Organization in 2018 to recognize video game addiction as a mental-health condition.

In extreme cases, gaming has been blamed for several deaths.

In 2007, a 26-year-old man in northern China reportedly died after spending seven consecutive days playing video games. A 32-year old Taiwanese man was found dead in 2015 after playing video games for three days straight.

In 2018, a Chinese gamer was reportedly paralyzed after a 20-hour gaming marathon.

Last year, the country placed restrictions on gameplay, including limiting gaming time and imposing an age-appropriate rating system, in response to rising levels of nearsightedness among children, according to the BBC.