Limiting Video Games for Kids

In our house, the kids get 30 minutes a day for either a video game or to watch YouTube videos. Fortnite is the top choice.

That means everyone has to be on same page: parents, kids, babysitters, grandma.

Some parents describe they try to limit their children, but fail.

Still, there are no laws limiting screen time for kids, except several states have rules for child care centers, for kids through age 2.

A number of states have tried to limit the sale of violent video games, but federal judges have always overturned those laws, citing free speech issues in the First Amendment.

China’s government has tried to limit video games since the early 2000s. Various consoles are banned, for example.

Yet children still play lots of video games in China, just like here in USA.

This past year, the Chinese Ministry of Education has stepped their efforts, citing eye strain. Most Chinese I’ve spoken with say eyesight is not the true concern.

In August 2018:

A statement posted on the Education Ministry website late on Thursday justified the new curbs as a way to counter worsening near-sightedness among minors, after President Xi Jinping earlier this week called for greater national attention on optical health.

But the move adds to perceptions that there is a broader campaign to rein in China’s fast-growing video game sub-culture after authorities already made clear their concerns over gaming addiction and the violent content of many shoot-em-up titles.

The education ministry statement, also endorsed by seven other ministries, said they will “implement regulations and controls” on the number of games that can be played online, limit new releases, explore an age-restriction system for games, and take steps to reduce playing time by minors.

These limits really hit big Chinese companies hard. Tencent, the biggest, responded to large drops in its stock market price this way:

Tencent has announced it will start forcibly restricting the number of hours children can spend playing its popular mobile MOBA, Honour of Kings (or Arena of Valor, as it’s known in the west). Beginning Saturday 15th September, players will be required to register their real names in order to play. These will be verified using a police database in order to identify underage players, and limit a child’s playtime. Children aged between 13 and 18 will be able to play for up to two hours per day, while those 12 and under will be limited to just one.

Tencent introduced these times in July last year, but now it’s being backed up by state data, players can no longer input a false age to dodge the limits. Sorry kids – there’s no escape.

That wasn’t enough, so Tencent rolled this out in November.

Chinese tech giant Tencent announced that it will use facial recognition technology to monitor and identify players of its video game “Honor of Kings” in China. The game, also known as Wángzhě Róngyào and known as both “Kings of Glory” and “Arena of Valor” in the West, is a multiplayer online battle game and one of the most popular and highest grossing online games in China.

Seemingly, this step helped convinced authorities that Tencent was “trying hard enough.” A few weeks ago, this from CNN:

After a nine-month freeze that hammered Tencent’s (TCEHY) stock price, Chinese authorities have started allowing the internet company to make money off new mobile games again.