China claims youth gaming addiction resolved

A Chinese child gaming on a phoneGetty Images

Young people in China have curbed their addiction to video games, a report says.

The claim is made by the China Game Industry Group Committee, affiliated to the gaming regulator.

And it may raise hopes officials – who once attacked video games as “spiritual opium” – may soften the country’s severe gaming restrictions.

Since August 2021, children have been banned from gaming for more than three hours a week.

‘Remarkable results’

The gaming sector was also hit with a freeze on official approvals for new titles.

It was part of a wider crackdown by the Chinese authorities on the country’s enormous technology sector, which includes giants such as Tencent, one of the world’s biggest video-games companies.

The report was co-authored by data provider CNG, which concluded 75% of young gamers now played for less than three hours a week.

Chinese game companies, including Tencent, have achieved “remarkable results”, it says.

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By Kerry Allen, BBC Monitoring

The Chinese Communist Party government has repeatedly warned against a rising trend of gaming addiction among young people, saying it has had a role to play in rising rates of “myopia” in the country, and poor levels of concentration among children. Mental-health problems and sleep disorders have also been cited as problems.

The pandemic has heightened concerns about screen time, with many students being restricted to their homes, and switching to online learning amid outbreaks.

But has the perceived problem really been “resolved”?

It’s true following the restrictions introduced in 2021, Douyin, China’s version of TikTok followed suit and banned under-14s from using the platform for more than 40 minutes a day.

Such rules have severely restricted children’s screen time, but as cases of Covid-19 have surged once more in the country, and with winter approaching, children are spending more time at home and there is still an appetite for gaming. Some parents have allowed children access to their accounts, to keep them entertained.

Gaming has also become increasingly popular among Chinese adults. This week, the China Daily newspaper reported on how many elderly residents at care homes are starting to play online games “to strengthen their bonds with their grandchildren”.

It seems there’s some way to go before we can say China’s gaming addiction is a thing of the past.

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Asian games market experts Niko Partners said the backdrop to the report was declining revenues in China.

But, founder Lisa Cosmas Hanson said, the future looked more positive, with “momentum in the economy, esports, PC gaming, and enthusiasm among China’s 700 million-plus gamers”.

“With the restart of game approvals and adjustment to youth regulations at a local level, we are seeing a more positive outlook start to develop,” she added.


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