Will tougher rules on gaming time really work?
  ·  2021-09-23  ·   Source: NO.38 SEPTEMBER 23, 2021

On August 30, the National Press and Publication Administration delivered new rules on online gaming. Children under the age of 18 are now allowed to play online games only between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays as well as during public holidays. This is so far the strictest regulation issued on video gaming intending to prevent the huge number of players, most of whom are under 18, from getting addicted to online gaming. By late 2018, the number of online gamers in China had reached around 484 million, the vast majority of them being children aged between 12 and 16—an age group most likely to develop gaming addiction.

As for this latest rule to really help drag children away from the cliff's edge, various efforts are in order.

Zhang Xiliu(Beijing Youth Daily): To restrict gaming time for under-18s is a crucial step toward shielding them from addiction. Families, schools, game firms, and relevant authorities should all get involved in the efforts. Families should act as the first line of defense. Parents need to communicate more frequently with their children and guide their children to properly distribute their free time. Schools, at the same time, should also manage their respective accountabilities in preventing students from sliding into the gaming world. The relevant authorities, meanwhile, should keep updating regulations on the video gaming industry since it keeps developing at a fast and furious pace.

Zhou Shihao (Xiaoxiang Morning Post): Undeniably, online games have already become a major part of many a minor's life today. For most children, online gaming is irresistible and thus can result in compulsive behavior.

As far as their parents are concerned, they should never turn a blind eye to their children's addiction to online gaming, but parents should also avoid veering toward the other extreme, as it would prove rather hasty to deny their children any games full stop. In most cases, the children's interest will shift from video games to other things as they grow up, and they will develop new interests. In this sense, to totally forbid online gaming may well lead to undesirable consequences, whereas parental guidance and a good understanding of a child's mindset can prove really helpful.

The final goal is for children to have access to online games, but not allowing these games to suck them in and consequently harm their physical health and academic life.

Chen Zhiqi (Guangming Daily): Online games are compelling to adolescents, who tend to love exciting novelties. Meanwhile, online games, if handled properly, do help people relax from the heavy burdens of school or office. There's a trade-off. If children can avoid the troubles caused by online gaming, then they should be given the freedom to play games.

However, reality holds that the rapid development of Internet technology is empowering online games, leading to increasingly addictive ones. As a result, more damage can be done. In 2019, the relevant authorities rolled out an anti-addiction real-name registration system. However, to this day still, many gaming companies only pretend to follow the rules, but in fact try their very best to circumvent the regulations, trying to maximize their profits. In this sense, this time around, detailed and tough regulations on gaming time are urgent and will prove more effective.

Time is limited and thus to indulge oneself in online gaming will only waste precious time that could otherwise be spent on exploring new, fresh pursuits. To restrict gaming time is not about banning minors from online gaming, but about helping them construct a more reasonable timetable for daily life. The goal is for them not to be drawn in by the song of the Sirens keeping them from exploring a more diverse and colorful real world. 

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

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