Li Zhanguo’s two children, aged eight and four, don’t have their own smartphones, but like millions of other Chinese children, they are no strangers to online gaming.
“If my children get their hands on our mobile phones or an iPad, and if we don’t closely monitor their screen time, they can play online games for as long as three to four hours each time,” he said.
Like many other parents, Li is happy with new restrictions imposed on online game companies that took effect early this month. They limit children to just three hours weekly of online games time – an hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday most weeks.
The restrictions are a tightening of rules set in 2019 that banned children from gaming overnight and limited them to 90 minutes game time most weekdays.
The 90-minute restrictions, however, did not allay authorities’ concerns over addiction to online gaming.
Experts say it’s unclear if such policies can help prevent addiction to online games, since children might just get engrossed in social media. Ultimately, it’s up to parents to nurture good habits and set screen time limits.