China’s government stepped up measures to curb children’s screen time and combat gaming addiction by banning them from playing online games on school nights and limiting play to three hours on weekends.

In a translated statement issued 30 August, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) imparted online gaming companies can allow children under 18 years-old “only one hour of online game services on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and statutory holidays from 20:00 to 21:00”.

The agency stated children’s overuse of online games has “become a prominent problem, which has a negative impact on normal life, learning and healthy growth”.

The new rules come into effect on 1 September, which is the beginning of the new school year. They require titles to be connected to NPPA’s online game anti-addiction, real-name verification system.

All gamers must use valid identity information to register for game accounts and log-in.

Gaming companies are not allowed to provide any service, including tourist experience mode, to users who have not registered and logged-in with their real names.

In November 2019, the government set online gaming limits for children aged under 18 years in an effort to reduce addiction.

One of the country’s largest gaming companies, Tencent, was hit by lawsuit in May by a Chinese public interest group claiming the company ignored the limits.

Over the past ten months, the government has increased scrutiny of domestic tech companies and introduced stricter regulations covering competition, user privacy and child projection.