BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It may be the best of times for the Chinese parents - and the worst of times for young video game players.
On Monday (Sept 6), word spread the National Press and Publication Administration had released a document imposing restrictions on the weekly time a pupil can spend on video games.
According to the official notice, companies can only provide services to juveniles for one hour between 8 and 9 pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and other public holidays. The new regulation, widely cheered by many adults online and off, will ban minors from playing online games entirely between Monday and Thursday.
The move reflects a longstanding concern about the impact of excessive gaming on the young, and represents an effort to protect the physical and mental health of minors.
In a survey released by the Beijing Juvenile Law Aid and Research Center in August, youths who indulged in video games can play as much as 10 hours a day, and many have no interest in studies or socializing after these marathon sessions.
It's not rare to see videogames trigger family arguments and cause broader social problems, due to distracting players from their school and family responsibilities.
In an extreme case, a 13-year old boy in Nantong, Jiangsu province died after he jumped from a fourth floor in September 2018. His mother vehemently condemned the game Player Unknown's Battlegrounds, saying the boy did so trying to see if he could survive like the characters in that game.
Video games are designed to be addictive - repeat customers are essential to any business, and game companies are no different. Children with poor impulse control or who have a hard time fitting in are most vulnerable to game addiction. What's more, excessive screen time at a close distance is a proven contributor to myopia. This can also negatively affect sleep quality. Too much screen time also correlates with sloth and weight gain.
While there are definitely positives to video games, it might be important to remember bad habits have to start somewhere. Moderation is key, and young children should learn to control themselves and properly manage their time.
The regulation sounds a bit cruel to kids, but as the Chinese saying goes, good advice doesn't sound nice, and bitter medicine has effective results.
It is, of course, good for kids to cultivate good habits. But regulations are only one piece of the puzzle. Parents and teachers' efforts are also needed for supervision and education to protect minors from overindulging. They should suggest more healthy and productive activities that can cultivate the youths' passion for real life - in the real world.
- The author is a writer with China Daily. The paper is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media titles.