China allows children under 18 to play online games for one hour only on Fridays, weekends and holidays

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Representational: Online gaming companies are now barred from providing services in any form to children below the age of 18 outside specified hours (AFP via Getty Images)
Representational: Online gaming companies are now barred from providing services in any form to children below the age of 18 outside specified hours (AFP via Getty Images)

Chinese regulators on Monday further cut the amount of time minors can spend playing online video games to one hour on Fridays, weekends and holidays, amid widespread concerns of a growing gaming addiction.

Those under the age of 18 can now only play online games between 8 and 9pm local time on the specified days, according to Chinese state media, citing new rules published by the National Press and Publication Administration.

Online gaming companies are, therefore, now barred from providing their services in any form to children below the age of 18 outside of these hours.

The regulator added they must ensure that real name verification systems are in place. Earlier this month, a state media article dubbed online games “spiritual opium”, causing big players like Tencent Holdings Limited to affirm it would restrict minors’ access to its flagship game, Honour of Kings.

The regulator had earlier permitted children’s access to online video games for three hours on holidays and 1.5 hours on other days.

These new rules come amid China’s ongoing crackdown on big tech companies like Tencent and Alibaba Group.

The regulator also told state media agency Xinhua that online gaming companies would now be subject to even stricter inspections to ensure they were complying with these new mandates.

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