(TargetLiberty.org) – Age-appropriate video games can be a fun way for kids to have good, clean fun while learning about technology. An APA review even suggests gaming has the potential to boost learning, improve social wellness, and improve health in the right circumstances. Yet, kids who spend too much time behind the screen also face other significant risks, such as depression, addiction, and aggression. In August, China responded to these concerns by tightening a set of draconian restrictions on the hobby.
China Restricts Gaming at Home
The Chinese government recently instituted new restrictions on online gaming for both children who play and the companies who create content for them. These limitations begin not within the industry itself but private homes instead.
First, children under the age of 18 are only permitted to play online games on weekends and national holidays between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Playing at any other point throughout the day or during the school week is strictly prohibited.
According to recent reports, Chinese regulators have set up a platform that will allow people to alert them if they believe any gaming companies are failing to enforce the rules. But how, you might ask, can a gaming company enforce such stringent restrictions? How can they know who’s really playing?
China have overcome this potential hurdle by restricting how developers, publishers, and content creators interact with underage consumers. They’re forcing companies to play ball by demanding players hand over deeply personal information before signing on to the site.
Strict Rules for Content and Access
Per government regulations that took effect in 2010, content creators and publishers must ask gamers to provide their real names before signing on to online game services. This list includes most massively multiplayer online games, such as League of Legends and World of Warcraft.
To ensure kids don’t just register under a fake name, registrants must also provide proof of ID, such as a Resident Identity Card. China unveiled a real name verification system in 2020 to make it easier to enforce the rules.
China’s National Press and Publications Administration (NPPA), which is responsible for reviewing game content to ensure it meets acceptable standards, also drastically slowed its approval process for new games back in mid-August. It wants developers to re-review submitted content for adherence to pre-existing state guidelines before moving forward.
The increased industry pressure comes at a time when Chinese regulators are already on the warpath against the alleged dangers of gaming. In early August, state media outlets attacked the hobby, calling video games an addictive form of “spiritual opium.”
While China’s children are unlikely to appreciate the new crackdown, they shouldn’t feel they’re suffering the effects alone, either. Stocks for nearly all major developers, including League of Legends and Call of Duty creator TenCent, plummeted shortly after news of the new regulations and restrictions first broke.
Yet, this leads to bigger concerns: why does the government have the right to dictate how parents raise their kids? Many feel that parents should decide how often kids play and which games they enjoy. Is this a case of overreach — or are Chinese regulators truly attempting to protect little ones from harm?
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