New borders protect minors playing online games


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Boys play online games outside a market in Luohe city, Henan province. ZHU LIPING/FOR CHINA DAILY

Youth addiction targeted as restrictions widen

Wu Yanlin, a teacher and mother of a high school student from Wuhan, Hubei province, was delighted to learn that the government was still limiting the time minors can spend playing video games to three hours a week.

She said online games are a waste of time and seriously affect the university studies of young students.

Last year, one of his students became addicted to video games when the high school where Wu teaches began online-only classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The student’s grades dropped alarmingly and it was difficult for him to make up for lost time studying for the all-important national college entrance exam, or gaokao, Wu said.

While the school has banned the use of phones in classrooms, most students in Wu play video games at home and their parents often struggle to keep them from spending too much time online, she said.

Wu also has issues keeping her son from indulging in video games.

She said he got hooked on games when he was in ninth grade. “There were constant fights and arguments. Every time we tried to stop him from playing games, he got really angry,” she said.

“For several months he refused to even speak to us. He would just unlock his bedroom door after school and play games.”

Wu added that family relations only improved when she placed fewer restrictions on her son’s playing time.

According to a notice issued by the National Press and Publication Administration on August 30, online game providers may only offer one-hour services to minors from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. .

The administration said providers must not offer any form of service to users who do not register and log in using their true identities. Press and publication administrations at all levels should oversee the implementation of related measures and deal with companies that do not put these requirements in place.

In 2019, the administration limited the time children under 18 could spend playing online games to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends.

He said the latest restrictions were put in place to help prevent young people from becoming addicted to video games.

In a separate Q&A session explaining the new rules, the administration said parents who suffer greatly when their children become addicted to internet gaming have called for new restrictions and reductions in the time given to minors by gaming services. in line.

The administration added that gambling addiction among young people has seriously impacted their studies and their physical and psychological health. This led to serious social problems and became a source of concern among the public.

Extreme case

Tragedies can occur when young college students become addicted to video games and lose their sense of reality.

In September 2018, a 13-year-old boy in Nantong, Jiangsu province died after jumping from a room on the fourth floor. His mother vehemently criticized Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds game and said her son jumped in to see if he could survive like the characters in that game.

Last year, an 11-year-old boy in Handan, Hebei province, and his 9-year-old sister jumped from a room on the fourth floor, causing serious injuries to the two children, who were addicted to online games. and thought they could fly like the characters in them.

Lan Huiyun, a high school teacher in Shuozhou, Shanxi province, said most of his students play video games and some have become addicted to them.

For students in less developed regions, these games are the most accessible forms of entertainment and an important means of making friends.

A second-grade student once asked Lan for a leave of absence after telling her that her grandmother had passed away. Lan got worried when the boy didn’t show up for class after a week. He contacted the student’s parents and it turned out that the boy had spent the whole week playing games in an internet cafe.

Lan said students who become seriously addicted to online games find all kinds of excuses to play them. They also spend little on food and clothing, saving their money for games.

He added that even when schools confiscate students’ phones or call their parents, this does not solve the problem because they can easily buy cheap second-hand phones.

Liao Yasong, a high school student from Changsha, Hunan Province, said she spent a lot on different games, which she started playing when she was 6 years old.

She used her mother’s ID card to register. Liao said playing games is a good way to pass the time and can relieve the pressure of her studies.

Many of her male classmates are extremely angry with the new regulations and said they would take every opportunity to play games and find any loopholes until the restrictions have real effect, added Liao.

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