The fight against youth online gaming addiction might just be gaining momentum on a global level. The recent action taken by the Chinese Government to impose stricter regulations on online gaming for minors could potentially mark the beginning of a global trend in addressing addiction to online gaming. This move reflects growing concerns among governments worldwide about the addictive nature of online gaming and its potential impact on the well-being of young individuals.
China, with the world’s largest video games market, has been addressing concerns about gaming and internet addiction among young people for years. The limitations placed on online gaming hours for minors reflect the authorities’ worry about the addictive potential of excessive gaming and its impact on various aspects of young people’s lives, including studies, mental health, and social interactions.
New Restrictions on Online Gaming
The Chinese Government has imposed new restrictions on online gamers under the age of 18, significantly tightening regulations compared to previous limits. Starting this week, minors are allowed only one hour of playtime between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays. This move comes as part of an effort by the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) to address concerns about the negative impact of excessive gaming on teenagers’ studies, physical and mental health, and overall well-being.
In 2019, the NPPA had already set limitations on gaming hours, allowing 90 minutes of play on weekdays and three hours on weekends. However, this recent measure represents a more substantial clampdown
In other parts of the world, similar concerns have been raised. Addiction to online gaming can lead to severe implications, including financial consequences, especially when games incorporate gambling elements.
The restrictions imposed by the Chinese Government might serve as an example for other countries to consider when addressing the issue of online gaming addiction among minors. While each country’s approach may vary, the efforts to curb excessive gaming and its potential negative effects on young individuals seem to be gaining attention globally.
‘Pay to win’ culture
According to a report, The US-based rehabilitation clinic Addiction Center; describes how video games trigger the chemical dopamine in the same way addictive drugs can. The World Health Organization recently included gaming addiction as a disorder. And estimated that three to four per cent of video gamers struggle with addiction. In addition, people with symptoms of depression are also particularly vulnerable, seeing gaming as an escape from their day-to-day struggles.
Many platforms have gambling elements built into their systems. As a result addiction to online gaming can lead to severe financial implications. Some examples include in-game currencies that can be swapped with real money. Essentially enabling micro-transactions in exchange for “loot boxes”, which leads to a “pay to win” culture. The ultimate attraction is for gamers to progress further and add character customisation with money.
Other Regions Measures to Protect Children from Online Gaming Addiction
The European Union (EU) has taken several steps to protect children from online gaming addiction. As well as the potential harms associated with excessive gaming. The European Parliament has been actively working to ensure that the video game industry operates in a way that prioritizes the well-being of the users.
Some of the measures the EU has implemented or proposed include:
Enhancing Child Protection. A strong commitment to ensuring that children are better protected against the potential negative effects of online video games. This includes measures to address addiction and other harm associated with excessive gaming.
Regulation of Online Video Games. Focusing on regulating online video games to prevent manipulative game design that could lead to addiction. Developers are being encouraged to avoid creating games with features that exploit addictive tendencies and behaviors.
Parental Control Tools. The EU aims to provide better parental control tools. Which would allow parents or guardians to monitor and control their children’s gaming activities. These tools can help parents set limits on playing time and manage in-game purchases.
Prevention of Targeted Advertising. concern about the impact of targeted advertising on children’s gaming habits. The European Parliament seeks to address this issue and ensure that advertising practices do not contribute to addictive behaviours.
The EU recognizes the importance of the video game industry’s growth while simultaneously ensuring that measures are in place to protect the well-being of young gamers. As a result, striking a balance between encouraging growth and safeguarding children’s interests is a key goal.
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