Children in China will only be allowed to play online games for three hours a week as regulators attempt to curb online gaming addiction.

From tomorrow, under 18s will only be permitted to play online games between 8pm and 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as on official holidays, according to China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA).

These new restrictions further tighten China’s existing rule that children can only play online games for 90 minutes on weekdays, or three hours on holidays.

A spokesperson from the regulator told state media agency Xinhua that real-name verification systems will be in place to “further restrict and reduce the time period” in which minors have access to online games.

“Minors are still in the stage of physical and mental development, and their self-control ability is relatively weak,” an official said. “They are prone to overuse online games and even become dependent.”

The spokesperson said parents have reported that “indulging” in online games has affected their teenagers’ mental and physical health, impacted their studies, and “caused a series of social problems”.

The regulator acknowledged that some games, such as sports games or chess, are “understandable and acceptable”.

“Online game addiction is a social problem, and anti-addiction work is a systematic project that requires the joint efforts of all sectors of society,” the spokesperson continued.

They advise a two-pronged approach: government and industry regulation and anti-addiction management, and a focus on the responsibility of parents and teachers to “guide children to form good living habits”.

Following the announcement on Monday, users of Chinese social media platform Weibo said “this policy presumes that gaming is bad” while others criticised how it will now be impossible for teenagers to train for e-sport competitions.

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