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China limits time spent gaming to 3 hours a week
28 Oct 2021

Recently, the Chinese government has reduced the time that children can play video games to just one hour a day for three days a week.  This has been significantly reduced from 2019 when children were allowed to play for an hour and a half on most days of the week.  Naturally, the new legislation has opened debate not only in China but also here in the UK. 

why limit gaming hours?

The Chinese government claims that they have introduced these measures as a way to protect children’s physical and mental health.  For many years now there has been growing concern about the effects of gaming addiction on young people in China.  Did you know that gaming consoles were banned until 2014 in the country? Chinese state media describe gaming as “spiritual opium” highlighting the fears the country has for technology and its addictive nature. 

why could this be a good thing?

Although the restriction sounds severe, the new regulations could have a positive impact on China’s young people in a number of ways.  First, it could help children to focus more on school work.  Secondly, some parents are concerned about the growing amount of time their children spend online and this new legislation provides parents with solid laws that they can reference.  There is also the suggestion that the Chinese government worries that gaming addiction is similar to the 1800 opium addiction epidemic and that they are doing everything they can to stop this.

Additional benefits of the legislation include stronger and healthier development of social skills.  This will occur as children are brought together to socialise rather than being isolated at home playing video games.  

Some commentators have also suggested that these restrictions have been brought in to fight Myopia which is an eye disorder.  Statistics show that almost half of all children in China are short sighted and this is only getting worse.  Some people believe that this is because children are spending too much time on their phone as opposed to being outside.  

why could this be a bad thing?

Not everyone believes that the new restrictions offer a solution to China’s escalating problems with gaming.  It is widely recognised that Chinese students face huge pressures from the education system already.  The pressure to do well at school, with long hours and huge workloads, has made Chinese students more vulnerable to gaming addiction as a form of escapism. 

One young person, who recently moved to the UK from China and has first hand experience of the pressures, commented. “I do not think it’s a good way to stop young people becoming addicted to tech. It’s too simple and crude.” He added, “Chinese students always face high learning pressure and are more susceptible to game addiction. Therefore, more restrictions in place will lead to more negative mentality and rebellious behaviours of young people.” 

He also suggested that many students will merely bypass these regulations through the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which will make these regulations pointless.  However, VPN’s are expensive and this could create different problems as children seek alternative ways to continue gaming.

Like other young adults who have played online games throughout their childhood, he believes that guidance is better than restrictions.  He explained, “ I think the appropriate measures are providing young people with correct guidance - both mentally and physically. This support would lead them to find more interesting and meaningful activities in their daily life  which are more likely to produce better results than simply applying restrictions.”

is something like this likely in the United Kingdom?

Although the news from China has sparked debate such legislation is unlikely to be passed in the UK.  The vast majority of industry experts and family specialists agree that a limit on gaming would be a bad policy for the UK.  It is generally expected that it should be parents and not the state that decides where to draw the line when it comes to placing restrictions on gaming.  However, parents deserve better research and guidance on the effects of screen time to make those informed decisions.

techtimeout for a healthier relationship with your screens

At techtimeout we are passionate about helping people have healthier relationships with technology. We recognise that technology, including gaming, plays an important role in today’s society and develops many skills. We focus on providing guidance and support to help individuals and families to make informed decisions about how they use technology


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