Online gaming is a big deal throughout most of Asia, especially in China, which has the world’s largest internet user population – over 750 million people. Addiction among its younger population has led the country to propose some extreme measures, including the banning of anyone under 18 from playing online games after midnight.
The Cyberspace Administration of China’s rules also suggest that schools work with the controversial internet rehabilitation centers that have flourished in the country. The South China Morning Post reports that these military-style boot camps are resorting to methods such as electric shocks and physical punishment as ways of stopping young people from playing online games.
“This is a disaster for Chinese teenagers,” said lawyer Wang Qiushi. “More such boot camps might emerge after the passage of this regulation.”
Approximately 74 percent of internet users in China are aged between ten and thirty-nine, and 23 percent are under the age of nineteen.
It will be the responsibility of developers to block minors from playing online games between the hours of 12 AM and 8 AM every day. Those under 18 would have to register to play using their ID, with all the information then stored on the company's servers. The rules also ask developers to create software for detecting underage users, and to design games in a way that deters young people from becoming addicted.
China already has regulations that attempt to curb minors' online gaming habits. In 2007, authorities instructed game operators to deduct points from younger players if they spend more than three hours on a game. Three years later, game firms were told to clamp down on under-18s using fake IDs by verifying their identity numbers with a database provided by the Ministry of Public Security.
The proposals are open to public feedback until the end of October. Users of Chinese social media site Weibo have already expressed their opposition to the plans. “How do we define internet addiction? We all work in an office in front of the computer for at least eight hours. My younger brother uses a computer at school. Who is the internet addict? Everyone,” wrote one commentator.