China bans under-18s from playing video games for more than an hour per day

Under-18s have been banned by the Chinese government from playing online games for more than an hour a day, it has emerged.

The move also sees youths only being permitted to play the games between 8pm and 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

The People's Daily – the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party – took to the Chinese social media platform Weibo to announce the news.

Online gaming companies will also be required to enforce the ban, and will have to strictly enforce rules which require users to register accounts with their real identities in order to play.

This comes after shares in the country's biggest online gaming companies slumped when state media labelled their products as "spiritual opium", comparing them to "electronic drugs" earlier in the month.

The reference to opium was likely used after European countries such as Great Britain and France "hobbled" the Qing dynasty in the mid-19th century through heavy imports of the drug.

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This ultimately led to Hong Kong being given to Britain as a sovereign territory before it was returned in 1997.

China's crackdown on gaming companies was prompted by the state-run Economic Information Daily publishing an article to warn of teenagers being addicted to online video games.

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The article also called for the industry to be curbed, and focused heavily on Tencent's flagship game Honour Of Kings – which some students are alleged to play for up to eight hours a day.

The newspaper wrote: "No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation."

The publication also appealed for "mandatory means" which would force online gaming companies to prevent addiction among young players.

Tencent – the company behind the development of the latest Pokemon game released last month – responded by saying it would introduce new measures to limit access to its games and the time spent on them by children.

Following this, Tencent then imposed restrictions on its Honour of Kings game, limiting under-18s to playing only an hour a day normally and two hours a day on holidays.

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