JACKSON GROSSHANS WRITES — On August 31 of this year, China passed a law that forbids youths under 18 from playing video games more than three hours a week. The Chinese government claims it did this to prevent further addiction to video games. This new law, passed by the National Press and Public Administration, represents a major shift in China and an attempt to regain control over influential sectors of the Chinese economy and education.
Now, then, we are compelled to ask, how is youth gaming going to be managed in the United States, and what possible mental health problems might new generations suffer in this digital era? This is of course uncharted territory, but with its huge revenues and in this age of rapidly expanding growth, the technological revolution is so advanced that it cannot be halted, whatever the costs versus benefits of their effect on youths.
China’s new law applies not only to console gaming but to mobile phone gaming as well. It dictates the actual times that video games may be played: only Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 8 to 9 pm. This is not only a blow to teen gamers across China but to the booming video game industry, which will lose a large group of consumers. Gaming pulls in significant financial gain: the Chinese games market is estimated to produce 45.6 billion worth of revenue in 2021- more than the US market. About 62.5% of Chinese youths play online, and 13.2% of underage mobile game users play mobile games for two hours or more on working days.
China’s case against gaming appears to be full speed ahead. A state media outlet even went so far as to describe video games as “spiritual opium,” citing Tencent’s game “Honor of Kings” as an example, which laid a massive blow to the world’s largest revenue gaming firm. The NPPA has also stated that it plans to increase inspections of online gaming companies to ensure that the policy is upheld nationwide.
Is the Chinese government being transparent? It claims that these new laws are implemented and enforced in hopes of curbing gaming addiction and protecting youths. In reality, isn’t this an attempt by the Chinese government to cultivate younger generations in order to ensure their development and participation in the economy and society of China? While the intention behind these laws is good, it brings up concerns about the level of government regulation enforced in the home. Should how a child spends time be up to the parent, or should the state be involved and in control?