Chinese gaming loopholes need to be removed to 'prevent teenage addiction'

Authorities have cracked down on gaming and social media use in the last few months.
Authorities have cracked down on gaming and social media use in the last few months. Photo credit: Getty Images

Chinese state media said loopholes allowing minors to bypass new rules aimed at curbing gaming play time to three hours per week should be removed to "prevent addiction."

China introduced new rules in August limiting the amount of time under-18s can spend on video games to three hours a week, a move it said was necessary to combat gaming addiction, causing young Chinese gamers to express outrage at the rules.

"On some online trading platforms, there are game account rental and sales businesses, users can bypass the supervision by renting and buying accounts and play online games without restrictions," a commentary in the Communist Party's official People's Daily newspaper said.

"This means that there are still loopholes for teenagers to enter online gaming, which is worthy of attention."

Chinese gaming company Tencent had already introduced facial recognition technology to stop children in the country playing games between 10pm and 8am before the wider ban was announced.

When accounts are played at night for an unspecified amount of time, a facial scan is required to remain connected.

Anyone who refuses or fails the face verification is treated as a child, kicked offline and added to Tencent's gaming anti-addiction system.

The commentary also said that some game trading platforms have said that strict measures have been taken to prohibit minors from buying, selling and renting accounts.

Gaming enterprises must "actively fulfil social responsibilities", "be responsible for the healthy growth of the next generation" and "promote the healthy development of the industry".

Families and schools are also urged to create a conducive environment "for the healthy growth of minors", according to the commentary, especially parents, as some minors use their identities to register for a gaming account, making the gaming time limit ineffective.

Authorities in China, the world's largest video games market, have worried for years about addiction to gaming and the internet among young people, setting up clinics which combine therapy and military drills for those with so-called "gaming disorders".

But gaming has only been one focus of the crackdown on online activity.

In August a focus on irrational and undesirable online fan behaviour ended with more than 4000 social media accounts shut down and 150,000 pieces of content removed.

And last month ByteDance, the creators of Douyin, the Chinese app known as TikTok elsewhere, revealed all under-14s are only allowed to use the app for 40 minutes per day, and only during a four-hour window.

Access is prohibited between 10pm and night and 6pm the next day, thanks to the new 'youth mode' that's been implemented.

"Teenagers are the future of our motherland," the Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) spokesperson as saying at the time. 

"Protecting the physical and mental health of minors is related to the people's vital interests, and relates to the cultivation of the younger generation in the era of national rejuvenation."

Reuters / Newshub