Does Restricting Gaming Playtime Truly Solve Addiction Among Minors?

Surprise, Surprise: Tencent Games Cracks Down on Youth Gaming (Again!)

Like last year, minors will only be allowed to play video games released by Tencent Games for an hour on 14 designated days over the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday

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Hayley Zhao
7:49 AM HKT, Sat January 14, 2023 1 mins read

Youth in China who were planning to ‘level up’ in their favorite video games during their month-long winter break in January 2023 should start making other plans. On January 9, Tencent Games announced that it would be limiting gaming time for Chinese minors — again — as part of China’s larger plan to combat gaming addiction among children.

As with last year’s policy, minors will only be allowed to play video games released by the company for an hour (from 8-9 PM) on 14 designated days.

Tencent Games

Minors in China are only permitted to play Tencent video games on the days marked with green circles. Image via Weibo

In Tencent’s announcement on Weibo, China’s top microblogging platform, the company has encouraged children to spend more time with their families. Many netizens have not withheld their criticisms of the holiday gaming restrictions.

“Why don’t we just lock all the underaged kids in a safe?” asked a Weibo user sarcastically.

This is the second year Tencent has enforced gaming restrictions over the Spring Festival holiday period.

Meanwhile, other online gaming platforms might not have cooked up their own ‘cutback calendars,’ but they must still adhere to the 2021 governmental regulation that only allows minors to game from 8 to 9 PM on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

Ever since the aforementioned regulation was released, gaming platforms in China have been required to register all users using their national IDs and a facial recognition system, steps that serve to prevent minors from borrowing other adults’ accounts.

gaming addiction, Tencent Games, Tencent

Image via Depositphotos

In November 2022, a government report released by the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association claimed that China had essentially solved the problem of youth gaming addiction. According to the report, gaming time among minors had significantly dropped since the previous year, with 75% of minors spending less than three hours weekly playing video games.

However, many are not buying into the government statistics. They have pointed out that underaged children can still play games using their older family members’ accounts, especially if their elders are lenient.

Many gamers have also shifted from Chinese gaming providers such as Tencent and Netease to Western platforms like Steam. The American gaming platform entered the Chinese mainland market in 2021, and enthusiastic locals joined Steam even before its official launch.

In fact, Stream has attracted approximately 30 million users since 2018. According to data released on Statista, simplified Chinese, the standardized written language in the Chinese mainland, was the second most used language among Steam users in July 2022, following English.

Another concern raised by netizens revolves around the rise of short-video platforms like Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, and Kuaishou: With reduced gaming time, many kids might redirect their attention to these other platforms.

The government report mentioned above has also highlighted this concern, revealing that 65% of minors now prefer to spend their time on short-video sites, which could lead to an addiction equally as toxic as non-stop gaming.

Cover image via VCG

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