China is promising a broader regulatory crackdown to limit the time spent watching online games among those under the age of eighteen. Objective: to reduce addiction problems among minors.
With nearly 665 million gamers spending more than 278 billion yuan (around 36 billion euros), China is the world’s largest video game market. Such an attraction is obviously not without consequences, some quickly developing an online addiction. These addiction problems have worried the Chinese authorities for several years.
In 2019, the country had already introduced a policy limiting minors to less than 90 minutes of video game time on weekdays and three hours on weekends. Children under the age of eighteen were also prohibited from playing online between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. These already restrictive measures will soon be tightened up again.
Three hours a week
Some people suspected that stricter measures were in the works after a Chinese state-owned newspaper criticized online games as “opium for the mind” several weeks ago.
Now, online game providers will only be allowed to offer hour-long services to children between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, according to the Xinhua news agency. Additionally, the new measure will require all users to log in with their real names rather than online avatars.
Remember that three years ago, the WHO officially included the addiction to video games (gaming disorder) in the category “Disorders linked to addictive behavior with several characteristics of addiction” of its international classification of diseases. This addiction is suspected of promoting behavioral disorders, which could cause nuisance with regard to life in society, especially within the family, studies and work. In this way, the WHO will allow addicted players to benefit from real medical supervision.
While this decision had reacted many experts pointing to the lack of long-term evidence to conclude whether it is a medical disorder related to gambling or drug addiction, a study published last year had Still revealed that the vast majority of gamers (around 90%) did not gamble in a harmful way, but a significant minority could actually become addicted in a way that negatively affects their lives.
Beneficial effects, too
As with everything, it is therefore advisable to play in moderation. Playing video games can even be beneficial. More recently, researchers have indeed explained that serious games could help treat neurodegenerative diseases. A small study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience also pointed out that playing video games could make us better at cognitive tasks.
In children, video games can also have beneficial effects. In a recent survey involving a sample of more than 4,600 children aged 11 to 16, 80% of respondents said they had read materials related to video games in the previous month (books, magazines or articles). on the Internet), while 62% said they write at least once a week about their favorite game (blogs or fan fiction). According to the authors of the survey, these practices could then encourage the sharing of cultural experiences, which can have very positive effects on children’s mental health.