China on Aug. 30 introduced new rules that people under 18 can spend only three hours a week on video games, effective Sept. 1. Minors are now required to verify their identity before logging on to play with time limits in place, said the Chinese regulator.
Authorities said on Monday the new rules were a response to growing concern that games affected the physical and mental health of children.
The curbs are part of Beijing’s efforts to promote the primacy of socialism and strengthen controls over society.
Over 60 percent of Chinese minors often play games online, and about one in every 10 underage mobile game users play mobile games for more than two hours a day on weekdays, according to state media.
From this month, China’s Ministry of Education will incorporate “Xi Jinping Thought” into the country’s national textbooks, in a bid to “cultivate patriotic feelings” and support the Party’s leadership.
The weak link between the millennial generation and the communism ideology flustered the ruling Party most, rather than concerns over their health or time management, said current affairs commentator Jiang Feng on his YouTube channel on Aug. 5.
“It really worries about losing control over the younger generation,” Jiang said, after Chinese state-run media labeled the gaming industry as “spiritual opium.”
Chen Tzu-yu, deputy director of Taiwan Statebuilding Party’s news department, called it “typical paternalism” and “an extreme fundamentalist act” in a Facebook post on Aug. 31.
China has also made moves to exclude the teaching of foreign languages and materials, although both experts and parents worried this would cut off students’ international perspective and interactions.
Some young gamers also expressed their anger on social media regarding the drastic cut.
“Sexual consent at 14, at 16 you can go out to work, but you have to be 18 to play games. This is really a joke,” said one comment on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
The move has hit shares of some Chinese gaming companies traded in the United States.
Reuters contributed to this report.