Video Games: China Prohibits Minors From Playing Online for More Than Three Hours a Week

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The Chinese government will regulate the hours and the number of hours per week that minors can enjoy online video games.

Children playing videogames

The Chinese government announced that it will implement new legislation that regulates the time that all minors are allowed to enjoy video games per week. Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Joshua Radesca

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Leer en español: Videojuegos: China prohíbe a menores jugar online más de tres horas semanales

Video games are one of the most popular modes of entertainment today. Millions of people around the world like to play several hours a day on their consoles, computers, or mobile phones. The time that players invest in playing usually depends on their interests and time availability. However, the Chinese authorities have considered that in the case of children and adolescents in that nation it is necessary to regulate the hours and the number of hours they dedicate to online games.

The Chinese government announced that it will implement new legislation that regulates the time that all minors are allowed to enjoy video games per week. The General Administration of Press and Publications of the Chinese government (the body that regulates print and digital publications) reported these new measures in a statement, which stipulate that minors under 18 years of the Asian country will only be able to play video games online from Friday to Sunday, one hour each day, from 8:00 to 9:00 at night. Minors will have the right to play one more hour at the same time during holidays.

Video game service provider companies must have name and identity verification systems to prevent young people from the Asian country from accessing video game services outside the parameters stipulated by the Chinese authorities. A regulatory body will be in charge of inspecting and verifying that companies in this sector comply with the stipulated restrictions.

For a few weeks, Tencent, one of the largest Chinese companies related to the world of video games, has stated that they will use facial recognition systems to ensure that minors cannot use their services outside the permitted hours.

According to the Chinese authorities, the intention of these measures is to protect the mental and physical health of young Chinese, as well as to ensure their healthy development. Therefore, the authorities also ask for the active participation of families, schools, and other social sectors to ensure compliance with these guidelines.

This is not the first restriction that the authorities exert on the time of enjoyment of video games for minors. In 2019, this time had already been limited to 90 minutes a day and three hours on holidays, in a time slot that ran from 8 in the morning to 9 at night.

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Are video games really harmful?

For years the Chinese government has not held video games in the best esteem. Recently, Chinese authorities have come to describe video games as a "cultural opium" or a "virtual drug." Is this type of entertainment really so harmful to minors?

A study by the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, seems to indicate the opposite. This research ensures that children who play video games develop better cognitive abilities. Among the conclusions of this research is that those who play video games during childhood have a higher performance in working memory tasks, which involve the retention and manipulation of information in the mind.

For its part, a study by the University of Rochester in New York showed that those who play action video games have the ability to make decisions more quickly. There are also several studies that agree that video games help develop children's reading skills since they must frequently follow written instructions. Likewise, there are multiple studies that indicate that playing video games favors the ability to solve problems, helps reduce anxiety and fight depression.

Most experts agree that, as long as there is no abusive or inappropriate use, video games are a positive source of entertainment for children and adolescents.