China may restrict screen time to combat myopia

Rather than just an elder’s warning of ‘don’t sit too close to the TV, you’ll go blind’, China has opted instead to introduce restrictions on how much screen time youngsters are able to indulge in – a move which stretches to cover gaming.

The move was put forward by the Chinese Ministry of Education, with the stated goal of reducing levels of myopia – short sightedness – in the country by more than point-five per cent each year to 2023. The aim, the Ministry hopes, will be achieved by limiting screen time on electronic devices both at home and at school for children and adolescents.

Recommendations were also issues to the State Administration of Radio and Television (SART), which has responsibility for approving digital game releases in China. Strengthening of current regulations that already limit screentime for younger players was the main push, and a suggestion to implement an age ratings system was floated – alongside advice to limit the number of new games approved for release.

The news comes via Niko Partners, which points out two of the recommendations have been mentioned before – screen time is already limited in many games, with titles like Honour of Kings restricted to around an hour’s play for those aged 12 and under. Age ratings, meanwhile, are present in the form of a red/orange/green system, but this is said to not be enforced.

The reduction in licenses granted for releases could have a big impact, though Niko says it’s only likely to hit the likes of mah-jong and poker titles. “We think that most of the curtailment of future licenses would be for mobile games or perhaps poker & mah-jong,” the report says, “But the new regulations will probably not impact PC, console or even core esports and RPG mobile games. There are far fewer of such games in the market and in development, and the leading game companies will try to prioritize these moneymaking categories.”

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