IN THE NEWS: China Limits Online Gaming for Minors

Hope everybody is having a great weekend so far. I want to give a shout out to one of my buddies for giving me a heads up on this story coming out of China earlier this week about a crackdown from the government on the amount of time that minors within the country play online video games. According to Fox Business, the new online restrictions for minors under 18 years of age (which only allow for just three hours a week) were the result of authorities looking to combat video game addiction and its negative consequences among its youth. In the case of this mandate, video game addiction has been viewed as being a primary distraction when it comes to responsibilities involving school and family.

I’ve written posts in the past in which I have touched on the importance of keeping the hobby of video gaming in its proper place within our lives. It is a form of entertainment that is meant to be fun and even has many cognitive benefits. But it should not be used as an escape or coping mechanism in such a way that we neglect the more important things in life. If a person starts to isolate, no longer takes any care for his/her health or well-being, and/or neglects important responsibilities in favor of video games, that is a problem to be taken seriously. Video games should never be the end all/be all for anyone. Neither should any other form of entertainment. Yet, one thing we should recognize is that gaming is becoming more and more popular with each passing year. This means that we should be expecting to hear and see the phrase “video game addiction” more frequently.

Credit: Statista
If Steam is any indication, the number of concurrent users in gaming is growing by leaps and bounds each year.

As an American citizen, I feel that many people that I would talk to would immediately attack the decision by the Chinese government as being harsh and unfair. But because I’m an American citizen and I have been nowhere outside of the United States at any point in my life, it would be in poor taste of me to speak on matters in another nation to which I am not acquainted. In the U.S., video game addiction is of concern to our youth, but parents are given the responsibility to manage the affairs of their children in that regard. The American government does not regulate when minors can play online or for how long. If the U.S. government were to enforce such a law similar to the Chinese government, I believe it would come under fire and cause resistance from the population. I’m not pointing out these things to be political but based on the knowledge I have of my own country. In the United States, we are known to be more individualistic, which is part of the reason why we would be more apt to champion individual rights and liberties in this situation. But being individualistic can have its flaws as well.

With China, it’s different. Its government is set up differently from that of the U.S. The population, which consists of cultural values and social norms, also features differences from the American populace. From what I have studied, China would be considered more of a “collective” society where a greater focus is placed on the benefit of the whole. So as I reflect on this topic, I need to attempt to understand it from the view of a citizen of China. It would be very beneficial to hear or read a perspective from a person in China who supports the government’s decision and a person who doesn’t. We could gain a great deal of insight by hearing their reasons for supporting their particular view. Also, is there legitimate data available in China that can show a significant decline in school performance that can be linked to online gaming? I do know that there is a link between people who feel lethargic and are constantly watching television and looking at a screen for hours at a time. Looking to understand both sides of a situation doesn’t mean you’re necessarily advocating for one side. But what it does is give a more complete picture of what is really going on.

Credit: Tencent
Chinese-based companies such as Tencent are feeling the effects of the recent announcement.

Online gaming is big business in China. China-based companies such as Tencent have become heavy hitters in the mobile gaming market and specialize in online gaming. Games such as League of Legends and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are two of the big titles under its umbrella. Although reports initially indicated an estimated 3 percent drop in the company’s shares, analysts believe the new restrictions could have a greater impact on gaming companies such as Tencent in the future. It will be interesting to see how these organizations adjust under the new mandates. Not only will they not have the youth player base and potential earnings during the time periods they had before, but they also must implement anti-addiction measures within their online games. What will happen to those companies?

I grew up in an age where children played outside and had a healthy dose of face-to-face interaction along with video gaming thrown in there. There was a mixture of activities with a great amount of it taking place outdoors. Also, mobile devices did not exist. When we were in places like shopping centers and malls, people were not glued to their phones. They didn’t have them. When I was a child and a very shy introvert, I was still very active. Nowadays, there are screens everywhere and most of us have a screen with us wherever we go. The scary part is that we don’t even realize how consumed we are by these devices. I am just as guilty as anyone else in this regard. It’s not uncommon to go to a restaurant to see the kids keeping themselves occupied with a mobile device or handheld video game system rather than interacting with the adults at the table. I guess I point all this out in that even though I believe that parents should be the ones to enforce those restrictions on their children, I can also understand the concerns of the Chinese government regarding how this affects their greater society.

This was a very interesting topic to cover and I would love to see your thoughts in the comments section. The point of this post was mainly for information and to give you some food for thought. I know how I would feel if these gaming restrictions were enforced within the United States, but that doesn’t mean it is automatically what is best for people in other countries. It also doesn’t even mean what I think is necessarily correct. That is why I refrained from taking such a stance in this case. Thanks for reading.


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