China has “basically solved” the problem of online gaming addiction among its youth, according to a new report co-authored by the China Game Industry Group Committee, the country’s top gaming industry body.
Back in September 2021, the National Press and Publication Administration, which oversees the licensing of video games in China, began to require game companies to ban children from playing more than three hours per week. This window is set from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and on public holidays. This March, the Cyberspace Administration of China also released a draft that asked companies to improve gaming rules to prevent addiction and ensure that children do not come in contact with content that could affect their physical and mental health, according to Global Times. The new report, titled “2022 China Game Industry Progress Report on the Protection of Minors,” claims that the share of minors who spend less than three hours a week on online games has grown to more than 75%, all thanks to the anti-addiction policies. Co-written by data provider CNG, the report also stated that anti-addiction systems adopted by gaming companies have covered more than 90% of underage gamers, as per the AFP.
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However, all those lost gaming hours had been spent on watching videos instead, according to the report. As it turned out, 65.54% of minors who originally spent their time on online games have pivoted to short video apps, marking a 7.81% increase from the previous year.
Of those aged 9 to 19 in China, roughly 98% own a cellphone, the report said. Meanwhile, approximately 186 million internet users are aged 18 and below.
Beijing has blamed gaming addiction for multiple problems among the youth, including myopia, poor concentration, sleep disorders and mental health problems. But with COVID-19 lockdowns still being enforced and the winter fast approaching, Chinese parents have allowed children access to their accounts to keep them entertained, the BBC reported.
How China moves forward with its anti-addiction policies remains to be seen. Reports say the government has begun to loosen up, starting with the approval of new titles after freezing the process for months.