back to article Children of China, your state-sanctioned hour of gaming begins … now!

China has introduced regulations that restrict children under 18 to just three hours of online gaming each week, one hour max each day. The new limits were published yesterday by China's State Press and Publication Administration, which wrote that online gaming has become a "prominent problem, which has a negative impact on …


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  1. Mark Exclamation

    Whilst it absolutely hurts me to say something positive about the Chinese government, I actually think this is a good idea. The West should implement it, too, and also include social media in the ban. And let's ban social media until age 25, then at least some of those "influencers" might be mature enough to realise how stupid they look and sound.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      I don't play games much (the odd puzzle or word game, perhaps ten minutes per week on average), and the closest thing to social media I do is posting here. So as someone who already doesn't want to do those things, what reason should democratic countries have for banning them? Usually, things are banned because they have a negative consequence on others, but looking stupid online where we can all ignore them doesn't reach that level for me. If you don't want your children playing games, feel free to place restrictions on them, but I can't think of a reason to impose your will on everyone else.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        The battle is already lost. It's absolutely impossible to place restrictions on your kids regarding the Internet unless you're hovering over their shoulder 24 hours a day. If you somehow manage to find half-decent parental controls that work with all the computers, tablets, smart TV, etc... in the home and on their mobile, they'll just play on a friend's device or their school will make you buy a Chromebook which is admin'd by themselves so you can't change a thing yet has the world's most ineffectual content blocker.

        And that's before we get onto the bullying and other more unsavoury aspects of social media/IM/online gaming. It's not the 80s any more when parental controls meant taking the portable TV out of the kid's bedroom, if they were lucky enough to have one in the first place. So, yeah, some joined-up thinking at government level would be nice. Perhaps some happy medium in between you on your own trying to hold back the whole of the Internet and what China's done.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Step one, lock up the router

          Step two, PiHole.

          Once they have gotten good enough at lockpicking or networking to get around this, they have learned enough basic skills to not starve once they move out, at least as long as the neighbors kids aren't doing the same thing.

          So don't tell the neighbors.

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Countless hours spent on gaming, online or not, can be a problem for children. But it isn't up to the State to regulate this. All children are different, and one rule cannot fit for all. It's the parental responsibility to fix the limits. The State disempowers the parents, it isn't a good thing for the children either.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        It's the parental responsibility to fix the limits.

        Are you nuts? How dare you to suggest I must be responsible for something? That's the government business. I must live the moment, enjoy life, consume as much as I can and care about nothing. Or that's what the media keeps telling me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Freedom vs public health

          Hmm that's a tricky one.

          On the one hand, I understand the idealistic, libertarian viewpoint, but on the other hand, It potentially involves addiction and in every society, that automatically makes it a public health issue.

          I would definitely prefer limits on the pervasive system of in-game-purchasing that many games can't seem to be able to do without nowadays. I don't remember it being this bad a decade or two ago.

          I would like to pay a fixed sum for a game for my "significant minors" without worrying about them running up tabs in excess of hundreds of Euros* within some silly game.

          Game developers are specifically and actively targeting and exploiting addictive behavioral patterns and this should be a strictly regulated practice - same as we** have done as regards the prevention of addiction.

          * I am in the Euro zone. Please insert <currency of your App store>

          **According to this source from 2018, rules in the UK were / still are? pretty similar:

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: Freedom vs public health

            what we do NOT need is a HEAVY HANDED TOTALITARIAN GOVERNMENT becoming "parents".

            To have a truly FREE society, you have to ALLOW people to make choices AND accept the responsibilities of those choices, without HEAVY HANDED GOVERNMENT INTEFERENCE, even if you DISagree with those choices.

            What China is doing is DYSTOPIAN and you can NOT justify it without IGNORING the overreach and the constant pressure of "big brother" looking over your shoulder at EVERY! ASPECT! OF! YOUR! LIFE!!

            and, since when is PROGRAMMING a GAME? (article referenced Go, Chess, and PROGRAMMING as acceptable-to-the-CCP "games")

            1. martinusher Silver badge

              Re: Freedom vs public health

              Not all games are created equal. When a game becomes a form of gambling then there are good grounds for restricting the amount of time a person, especially a child, spends on it.

              As for Freedom and all that it appears that the freedom we're talking about here is to exploit the easily exploitable. At some point society has to step in and "Just Say No". We also need to be wary of those people who espouse freedom -- loudly -- while all the time pushing for laws that restrict others' freedoms. The most obvious cases in the US are the Republican push for restrictive voter access and legal attacks on pregnant women (which is a proxy for attacks on women in general -- anti-abortion tends to go hand in hand with anti-contraception laws and restrictions on relationships, all in the name of public morals and protecting the innocent).

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Freedom vs public health

                "We also need to be wary of those people who espouse freedom -- loudly -- while all the time pushing for laws that restrict others' freedoms."

                I entirely agree with that sentiment, however it is of absolutely no relevance here. Those talking about freedom in this topic are calling for this to remain a private decision.

                Regulating games based on their content, E.G. those which are gambling, is one thing that more will agree with, but you've still got it backwards. The first step would be to restrict the amount of gambling available based on society's preferences, not to restrict the time spent but allowing any level. The Chinese law doesn't do anything regarding gambling in games, and restricts all games equally.

                Your arguments, while more likely to get support, do not apply to the situation under discussion.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Freedom vs public health

                Yeah, how about just limiting the predatory targeting and exploitation of children ok? The whole idea of government issued screen time mandates isn't a solution to a real problem. It limits the amount of time and total content, while still allowing 100% of that content to be the most abusive, dangerous, and exploitative content.

                So help get people to stop cheerleading for the bad idea, and push for the regulations you will need regardless. Which would be to ban predatory targeting of children with "game" apps that are really just gambling or ad fraud.

                Much like rat poop in baby formula, the proper amount is as close to zero as possible, not no more than 1 bottle of 100% rat-poop-in-a-baby-bottle per day.

            2. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

              Re: Freedom vs public health

              But in the West what we have is freedom to make choices WITHOUT the responsibility consequences!

              If you squander your early life and learn no marketable skills, or become a drug or booze addict then the state will just pay for your existence. This is the issue we in the west fail to face. There is zero consequence for bad behavior up to the point of committing a crime. And in many places n the US a crime even carries little consequence,

              1. Charles 9

                Re: Freedom vs public health

                Not dissing you, bit then what happens to the collateral damage? Divorcees, abandoned kids, maybe even widows and orphans left with no other support mechanism.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Freedom vs public health

            Hey, feel free to switch topics, but jackboot screentime restrictions!=limiting predatory marketing to children.

            The between the GDPR and Max Schrems you guys are on a roll, don't blow it now by pushing bad policy. Hit the predatory companies directly, or they will just keep gaming the system. That said, it's still up to you to manage what you allow your kids to do. Them not listening to you is not a technology problem, that's _your_ problem. I get that it is hard, but while trying to make someone else responsible for the problem may seem easy, it won't work, and your kid is the one who is paying the price, not the game devs and not you.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I don't disagree on the principle.

        But we're talking here about a country where parents are asked to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. Cutting the amount of time their kids spend on games might not be their first priority when they finally get home.

    3. Filippo Silver badge

      A free country should not implement bans on activities that have not been proven to be harmful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Kids have died in China after spending days playing non-stop, so the potential for harm doesn't need to be proven anymore at this point.

        1. Filippo Silver badge

          Kids die swimming, climbing, biking or playing soccer. Nobody considers those "harmful". The threshold for "harmful" can apparently range from "at least one kid died at some point" all the way to "well, most of them survive", depending on whether the activity is something those in charge like or not. That's not rational policymaking.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Not quite the same. The issue here is the one of potential addiction - assuming that the Chinese are correct and that these games induce/support addictive behaviour in minors (they are and they do, IMO).

            On the other hand, none of the sporting activities you mention would classify as prone to addiction and they are orders of magnitude more beneficial to kids overall health (physically, mentally and socially) than gaming.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Physical activity is addictive

              Sports release dopamine and adrenaline that are definitely addictive. I know many people who are addicted to running (which would be a candidate for the most boring activity in history otherwise)...

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              While I do share the point that dehydration and exaustion

              kills both gamers and kids in sports, we consider BOTH harmful because they are the same. I don't think they should be treated differently, and both cases of player death tend to be stupid and preventable.

              But it's not fair to frame this in a way that suggests that if a coach give a 10 year old nothing but energy drinks and won't let them leave a 105 degree football pitch, that the problem isn't with the coaches, it's with football.

              Gamers get less concussions, blown out knees, and other injuries as well. (though RSI's and button thumb can be a problem if they are allowed to over do it)

              And the studies on "Gamer addiction" are hot garbage from a science standpoint. They conflate the ideas of habituation and addiction, and frequently have had huge methodological errors to boot.

              Does that mean your kid should be a couch potato? No.

              However, they also shouldn't spend so much of their life in athletics that they are neglecting their academic and social development either. Focusing on electronic gaming in particular has become yet another moral panic. Go watch Footloose and Pump up the Volume and then go talk you your kids.

        2. Tron Silver badge

          Idiot logic.

          People have died in RTAs, so the potential for harm doesn't need to be proven anymore at this point.

          Time to ban cars.

          You do not ban an activity or a service just because some idiots behave badly and hurt themselves or others. You are punishing the innocent majority for the behaviour of the guilty minority.

          I doubt whether China will be winning many e-sport titles in the future.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Oh, NOZE, _ONE_ _PERSON_ _DIED_ fear fear panic panic panic... NOW let's use that to justify our HEAVY HANDED RESTRICTIONS on EVERYONE ELSE'S BEHAVIOR *just* *in* *case* ...

          REAL LIFE _IS_ RISK. The odds of dying in a traffic accident or having a tree fall on you or getting struck by lightning is NOT keeping people from driving or going outside... at least for NOW. In the current acceleration towards dystopian heavy-handed BIG BROTHER control of EVERY aspect of EVERYONE's lives, you have to remember that RISK *IS* *LIFE*. Otherwise we're just LAB RATS.

          (icon, because, FACEPALM)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            In case you haven't noticed, cars today aren't quite exactly the same, safety-wise, as the original cars, or even cars from 50 years ago.

            *A lot* of mandatory safety measures have been made mandatory by government decisions, that you probably take for granted today, like seat belts, turn signals, and whatnot.

            Today's deaths on the roads are literally a fraction of what they were half a century ago.

            And that holds true for plenty of other domains, government intervention mandating new safety measures saves lives, daily. Voluntarily ignoring that fact of life doesn't make you smart.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Big Brother

        A free country should not implement bans on activities

        PERIOD (with the exception of REAL crimes like theft, rape, murder, etc.)

        this acceleration towards DYSTOPIAN CONTROL by BIG BROTHER is sickening...

    4. Adelio

      The talk is about online games. What about NON online games. Consols, phones, gameboys etc?

      Certainly I have only ever played games installed on my pc as stand alone.

      Never wanted to play multiplayer.

      Anyway, I have a lot of sympathy for the chinese view, always over the top.... but they have a point.

      Same for social media, although I have a facebook account i have not used it in 3 or 4 years, never saw the point, 90% of it was trash...... I can get news from mainstream "news" sites, hopefully with a lot more authority and accuracy that some nobody spouting nonsense about how great horse worm tables are against covid!!!!! I Mean, do these people have a brain cell between them???

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Good for you...

        ...I am glad that *your* hobbies are allowed. Good thing you don't care enough to think about what other people may want to do with their time.

    5. gotes

      How does one define "social media" in this instance? I used to spend a lot of time on Usenet and IRC when I was a teenager, was I spending too long on social media?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, and Usenet and IRC were WAY more dangerous :)

        I mean those alt.blowuptheearth people were MANIACS, right? Thankfull, it's harder than it looks. IRC was where I met most of my friends that were A listed...

        and lets face it, alt.binaries on an unfiltered server would still land you on a watch list.

        But they said most of the same things about the rotary phone before stranger danger and satanic panic.

        1. ravenviz Silver badge

          Re: Yes, and Usenet and IRC were WAY more dangerous :)

          alt.stupidity was definitely addictive!

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pop psychology writ large

      There is limited quality evidence that this moral panic about gaming has any relevance, and that evidence shows a tiny causal relationship. There are also boat loads of garbage studies, sporting combinations of badly crafted cohorts, small data sets, and results that can't be reproduced.

      Those studies have one more thing in common, attention seeking authors that then leverage their flawed click-bait research to get their foot in the door in the author/influencer circuit. The two side effects of this are bad policy and a rabbit raisin trail of TED talks, oprah interviews, book tours, and fake addiction treatment centers.

      This is just bad idea madlibs. The prior versions of the same moral panic just swapped out the internet, nintendo, cellphones, MTV, the telephone, TV, cassete tapes, records, the radio, and comic books. None of the 4 generations of kids that were annoyed by parents freaking out turned out to be mass sociopaths or demographically much worse than the parents who themselves rolled their eyes at their parents.

      Many of them do have real scars from absentee parents and general neglect. Blocking online gaming isn't going to fix that.

      Praising another effort by Xi's political machine by eliminating the competition for his state propaganda machine is a nice troll, but a bad idea. It won't help there, and isn't designed to. And if you think it will work here, feel free to post your idea on /r/pewdiepiesubmissions along with your ID, let the kids themselves tell you what they think of your plan.

    7. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

      IN the west we view this as a parental responsibility not a government responsibility. Unfortunately for the west parenting has and is fast becoming a lost art form!

  2. mbee

    Seems like a good idea to me. Spending your childhood sitting in front of a gaming machine is insane.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Games are not the problem.

      A game created by one person may annoy/encourage someone else to design a better version in a fit of "I can do better than _that!_" pique. Games also foster creativity, imagination, & cooperation when a group of different people come together to accomplish the same goal: EG forming a clan to tackle the quests in most MMO RPGs. Yes they also wind up with their share of griefers, but you will get such trollish behavior in every aspect of life, not just from/in online games. And what if their online gaming is something like Scrabble tourniments, chess championships, or speed-coding contests/workshops that try to see whom can come up with the best game in the least amount of time? Are those considered antisocial, too? So an activity that has many posative benefits for the education & "edutainment" of the children you now limit to three hours per week. Per. Week. FFS, I hope you never get old & require one of those depressed, suppressed, & mind-repressed children to ever be in charge of your care in an old folks home, they may decide that there is no more point to caring for you than you obviously didn't care about them...

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      And how about any of the other things children do for entertainment? How about reading books for fun (popular ones, not the classics or textbooks)? How about building things with toys? How about making up arbitrary games with their friends and playing those? In each case, the activity could cause problems if done too much, and at first glance the activity doesn't benefit the child much. Also in each case, the child actually does get benefits and it is a perfectly normal way for them to spend their spare time.

      Forcing children to do nothing but work or learn is likely to burn them out. Restrictions should be imposed based on the child's activities and success rate, and if they happen to want to play a game on Wednesday, it's not automatically unhealthy.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Back in ye old days we had games that travelled around on floppy disc or CD/DVD. These were good, and aimed to be so much fun that you'd tell your mates about it and get them to buy a copy too, and be inclined to buy their next game.

        Playing computer games didn't used to prevent you from socialising or playing outside; we built gocarts etc as well as gaming when I was younger.

        Then came internet based games, and the subscription model. This was really more of the same, with the challenge being to get the player to want to keep buying the subscription each month.

        Then comes the next business model, the "freemium" model. The people coming up with these things are literally employing psychologists to help them create games that are addictive to keep people playing them and then trying to separate more money from the person a month that they would spend buying a game back in ye old days. Things like lockboxes get added, which is simply unregulated gambling.

        And this then extends into offline games; you buy the game at the full retail price and only get half of it and can only access the other half if you hand over more money, unlike ye olde days where you got the entire game for the purchase price, and then might get an expansion pack that included as much content as the original game for less than people currently pay for one bit of DLC.

        So as problems that I can immediately see are basically:-

        1) Addiction with online (primarily freemium) games which are designed to make themselves addictive to keep people paying as well as playing.

        2) People playing online to absurd extents do not possess the basic level of social skills that were accepted as a norm 20 years ago and appear increasingly incapable of communicating, relating to or functioning in society.

        3) All other forms of media break taboos to shock the audience and are having to get more and more extreme to shock people. People are getting increasingly desensitised and people argue that there is a correlation or causation with people then doing these things themselves.

        So the CCP regulating the amount of time that people can spend online might make an impact on point one, but is probably more likely to just make these things go to a single player offline model. If coupled with further restrictions on playing offline it might have an effect on point 2, but as it stands the same people are probably just going to play offline games or watch TV/DVD's which isn't going to help, and it's unlikely to have any effect on point three.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          In my opinion, only point 1 has any relevance. The others, well, let's look at each one:

          "2) People playing online to absurd extents do not possess the basic level of social skills that were accepted as a norm 20 years ago and appear increasingly incapable of communicating, relating to or functioning in society."

          Right. I've heard this before. About a lot of different things. I've heard that complaint about the television generation, the console game generation, the internet generation, and people who do lots of other things which are less generational but also involve spending a ton of time doing one activity (for example, reading books a lot and yes, I have heard people say it). We seem to be mostly fine. There are some people who lack social skills, but it's a stretch to blame that on some piece of mostly unrelated technology.

          "3) All other forms of media break taboos to shock the audience and are having to get more and more extreme to shock people. People are getting increasingly desensitised and people argue that there is a correlation or causation with people then doing these things themselves."

          I don't care. I also don't think it's true. I haven't really seen media as a whole getting more shocking. Certain types were more tightly regulated and now can be more shocking, but there's plenty of media out there which would have been just as acceptable a few decades ago. In each case, you decide what you want to consume and you read or watch what's out there. And people have been trying to prove that violent movies/television/games promotes violent behavior for decades (two for games, more for the others) and the research is still inconclusive. Continue to believe it if you like, but to justify regulation, you're going to need better evidence than that.

    3. Filippo Silver badge

      Right, we wouldn't want them to have badwrongfun.

      Scientifically, there's very little evidence linking videogames to mental health issues. Every now and then a study appears, but for everyone showing a weak negative correlation, there's one showing a weak positive correlation - and ten showing no correlation. Anecdotally, the people I know who played lots of games as kids are some of the most well-adjusted I know.

      This is more likely the Party seeking to curb Western cultural influence and restrict wide-ranging interactions.

      1. MOV r0,r0

        While an early years child is almost always better off sat on a parent's knee being read stories to rather than abandoned to a console, you've spotted the real reason for this change: unswerving devotional loyalty to the party unsullied by any non-Chinese characteristics.

        For example, whatever a child of the CCP will be doing with their extra non-gaming hours, it's won't be learning a language. That's been all but banned, international language schools in mainland China are going suddenly bust and anyone still teaching on the side risks a uniformed visit and all for the very same "purity" reasons.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, you better spend your time drinking alcohol!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, they have a stangle hold on that too...

      But don't fear, the teen gamers absolutely won't spend all of that new free time having unprotected sex.

      Which is probably part of the point considering the states changing policies in the face of their plummeting birth rate and greying population.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I probably would have killed myself from a decade of bullying in school, if it wasn't for the distraction of computer games.

  5. Joe W Silver badge


    In the form or manner of a genitive.

    I don't get it. I know what a genitive is, a number of languages I have learned have some form of it. I don't know what online gaming has to do with it...


    First China allows parents to have up to three kids.

    Second China make overworked, near-absentee parents (some through no fault of their own) stop working 69-9 work weeks (wait, is that right?).

    And now they've taken away the after school entertainer during the work week?

    Might this be a bridge too far?

  7. Filippo Silver badge

    If I had been subject to these rules in my youth, I would certainly not have learned to read English (I'm not a native speaker, but I loved Sierra/Lucasgames adventure games) and code simple programs by age 10.

    Having those oh-so-very-marketable skills ingrained in me since before puberty is so foundational to my life's success, that I have trouble imagining where I would be now, had I been subject to these rules.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good for you (and me, for the same reasons :), but those are definitely not the games that are worrying the authorities today. They're definitely not learning English by playing online shooters or some local Candy Crush equivalent.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        You may be wrong there. The games being banned are multiplayer games, in which communication with others is important. You have to make plans with your team members, which involves writing quickly and in an understandable way and may involve other languages for an international game. I don't know how often that is as I don't play any, but you do use language when playing multiplayer games.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Text and point & click adventures are pretty niche nowadays, I'm not sure if you'd have been able to learn all the English you need from online first-person face-shooting simulators.

      1. Filippo Silver badge

        Maybe, but I started getting decent at understanding spoken English when playing online games (admittedly, MMORPGs, not FPSs - but MMORPGs aren't exactly niche these days). Though I first learned C++ when I got curious about Quake mods.

  8. 45RPM Silver badge

    At first glance I kind of like this idea - until I started wondering whether this liking might constitute middle class smuggery. Quite right I thought. My kids only notched up a couple of hours gaming over the last fortnight…

    But we have the luxury of land and space. They can play in the treehouse, on the trampoline, they can garden and play football - or go for a bike ride on the quiet lanes hereabouts. They’re not exactly short of options.

    And that’s the problem isn’t it? It’s fine to mandate such restrictions if you’re well off - but what of the poor? Maybe you don’t have a garden. Maybe you don’t even have many rooms in your house. It isn’t the 50s, 60s or even 70s any more - the roads are far busier, so your children can’t even play safely in the street (as I used to do as a kid).

    It seems to me that this plan hasn’t been fully thought through. I can see the benefits of limited online access to children - but only if there’s a safer alternative to engage and entertain them instead. And I imagine that the situation is even worse for the urban poor in a Chinese mega city.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      And it's also the nonsense of: WE INSIST you stop using IT equipment, oh and by the way your ENTIRE FUTURE requires you to know how to use IT equipment.

      I learned to type by just experimentally typing rubbish poems and stories.

      I learned to speak by experimentally babbling random stuff at other people.

      I learned to read by experimentally reading anything I could get my hands on.

      I learned to code by experimentally writing random programs.

      I learned to drive by exploring the countryside at random.

      How *DARE* you experiment with something, and by the way you WILL NEED to be able to use that something in order to stay alive in future.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The streets in the 60s and 70s were not safer, however many children were playing in them. People were less risk-averse, that's about it.

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        I think I disagree with this statement - and for three reasons:

        1. Because kids actually played in the street - so they looked out for each other (strength in numbers - we were everywhere) and so motorists expected to see them and so drove more carefully.

        2. Cars were crap and had minimal safety equipment. Not even safety belts in many cases, so motorists drove more carefully in order to protect themselves. I was too young to drive (and too busy playing) - but I think this is an example of Booths Law

        3. There weren’t so many cars anyway. 13m or thereabouts when I was a kid vs. 35m today.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Depended on where you lived

          1. I remember my dad dragging me inside on several occasions whenever one of the local meat heads was doing donuts in their 70's muscle car on the cul de sac we played in all summer. Plenty of kids got nailed on bikes and skateboards too, and without all the gear they have today. That said, one perk of actually talking to your neighbors was that you could give their parents an earful, in a age where being a social pariah on the block had more consequences

          2. Drivers ed was much better in many areas too, and most people had to struggle through learning how to operate a clutch as manual transmissions were normal. Lowering the standards for getting a license combined with the idea that the car will drive itself allowed people that wouldn't have made it to line 3 or window 7 in the old DMV to become the menace of the roadways. Distracted or impaired driving is the main cause of pedestrian and bike accidents. The people in the 70's weren't more careful, they just had more practice in harder to drive cars. Compare our accident and DUI statistics to Germany.

          3. Bigger cars are doing more damage than more cars are. Part of that total are second cars, and when traffic IS heavy, it's distracted drivers hitting people, no one else is moving fast enough. That and the fact that modern cars are usually soundproofed, have tiny windows, window tint, and massive entertainment systems in them.

          1. 45RPM Silver badge

            Re: Depended on where you lived

            I can’t comment on the US - I was in my thirties before I went there. But the situation of playing in the streets was certainly common in the UK, Ireland, France and Germany - the only countries that I was familiar with as a child.

            Thinking about it, my thoughts are probably doubly true for China since their explosion in driving cars is a phenomenon of the last twenty years. Before then, the bicycle was the dominant form of transport - a far more playing in the street friendly mode of transport.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Depended on where you lived

              "Before then, the bicycle was the dominant form of transport - a far more playing in the street friendly mode of transport."

              I don't know about that. Bicycles are a whole lot quieter, meaning more chances of a kid getting nailed from behind by something that doesn't make as much sound. Not to mention, unlike with cars, even sidewalks aren't safe from bicycles...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You can find statistics on pedestrians death for the UK there, starting in 1979 to 2013, you can see a very straight decline, it was divided by 5:

          Children dying on the roads, that was divided by *6*:

          It seems very unlikely that the 2 decades before were somehow better than today.

          People really forget, the number of deaths on the road in the 60s and 70s was staggering. And due to human nature, that made it not news, but unexceptional and an accepted part of life. People simply did not pay attention to it. Rare events are much easier to remember.

          As for that: " Cars were crap and had minimal safety equipment. Not even safety belts in many cases, so motorists drove more carefully in order to protect themselves."

          Seriously? If that were true, why would seat-belts be needed, or speed limits, both great introductions of that period?

          You can find statistics easily, look at them, the numbers are truly scary:

          1. Charles 9

            "Seriously? If that were true, why would seat-belts be needed, or speed limits, both great introductions of that period?"

            Speed limits were mostly introduced during the OPEC crisis of the 70's because faster cars use more gas per mile.

            Seat belts were added mostly to protect children who don't know better.

            Some road design actually encourages removing control mechanisms at intersections to encourage vigilance, bearing out in places. Think of it as a lighter version of the steering wheel spike.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "The spokesperson named Chess, Go, and programming as games"

    Programming ?

    Programming is not a game. It can be fun to learn, but it is not a game.

    1. Psmo

      Re: "The spokesperson named Chess, Go, and programming as games"

      And what if they program a game?

      One of the first project I completed was a basic (and BASIC) space invaders clone.

      1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

        Re: "The spokesperson named Chess, Go, and programming as games"

        Programming a game is still not a game. Sorry. And while one might be able to gamify some aspects of programming, that still doesn't make programming a game.

        1. Psmo

          Re: "The spokesperson named Chess, Go, and programming as games"

          So you're not expecting people to pre-alpha test or game balance (that involves playing the game).

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: "The spokesperson named Chess, Go, and programming as games"

            Yes, it involves the same actions as playing the game, but with a specific goal in mind. You're not playing for the challenge of it, but instead looking for things which don't go as you thought they would. It can be fun to do, but it's done for testing, not for pure entertainment. Programming is not a game, even if you're testing a game you wrote. After you're finished finding the bugs, if your own game is captivating enough for you to play, then it's a game.

  10. Dave Pickles

    It's not about the kids

    It's about the Chinese Communist Party showing the country's tech companies who's in charge.

    1. Cuddles

      Re: It's not about the kids

      I don't think it's just about the tech companies. The important thing is for people to grow up thinking the correct way. In the past, everyone had to carry a copy of Mao's little red book, and reading anything not state-approved, especially anything foreign, made you a dangerous subversive. Today, children play games more than they read, so the state needs to make sure they're all playing correctly and not developing the wrong kind of thinking.

      Big companies can be easily slapped down in any number of ways, the CCP is not shy about simply accusing them of fraud and arresting, or simply disappearing, those at the top. While there is no doubt some element of making sure they don't forget who's boss, these actions seem much more aimed at controlling children and their thinking. People love to talk about 1984 when looking at the actions of Western governments these days, but a few surveillance cameras and internet spying doesn't compare to the actions of the Chinese government. It's not about a bit of surveillance in the here and now, it's about long-term control of thought on a generational scale. Politicians worried about getting re-elected in a couple of years simply don't have the long-term planning to be truly Orwellian.

  11. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Lucky Chinese kids

    Imagine all the fun they can have typing in listings from magazines and finding out where the errors are. For bonus points it can save badly or crash when the RAM pack wobbles. Western kids nowadays just aren't interested in that for some reason.

  12. My-Handle Silver badge

    It would be dishonest of me if I said that I didn't think this was a good idea on some level. I'm very aware that even I can end up spending too much time on computer games occasionally.

    At the same time, I feel that it would be naive to believe that the CCP are creating this law in good faith. I don't think that "it's for the children" is the core motivation behind this for a second.

    Controlling how kids spend their time should be the responsibility of the parents, it shouldn't be written into law.

    1. Charles 9

      Key word "should".

      But what happens when (1) the parents aren't there to handle that responsibility because they're being worked to death for "Da State", or (2) the parents abdicate that responsibility? Then what?

  13. Fazal Majid


    I remember reading an interview of TikTok's founders a few years ago when they were still called and when asked why they didn't offer their service in their home country of China, the answer was "Oh no, Chinese kids should study". Tells you everything you need to know about how they thought about their service and their customers.

    1. MOV r0,r0

      Re: TikTok

      It exists, it's called Douyin and although TikTok content doesn't reach it there's an amount of pro-CCP nonsense that leaks out of Douyin into TikTok, sadly.

  14. Sandstone
    Big Brother

    Discourage Social Interaction

    In my mind, one of the benefits of online gaming is social interaction. Perhaps China is afraid the children might get too much social interaction and start thinking for themselves and start spreading unacceptable ideas.

  15. Tron Silver badge

    So many grumpy old parents on El Reg.

    Teacher: What do you want to do when you grow up?

    Chinese child: Emigrate.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As any parent, however dictatorial, can tell you - kids will be kids, and hell hath no fury like a scornful child. Even China doesn't have enough forced labor camps to punish violators, but can you imagine what it might be like to get "swatted" there?

  17. Blackjack Silver badge

    So... Chinese kids will just do a lot of offline gaming instead?

    Don't get me wrong, online gaming can be quite toxic but as someone who got hours of fun everyday from Animal Crossing on the DS for over a year, I can tell you that a game doesn't need to be online to make you expend a lot of time on it.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      I do find it strange that this isn't instantly seen as a flaw in their restrictions. Has it really come down to slurping from consumer services so much that offline isn't even an option.

      Some of the best games I have played are offline. It makes me start to think this isn't about games but rather weening them off central servers. Something I fully agree with (Chrome Books, AppStores, Office 365, etc) all hurt us in the long run.

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