Gaming Time Limit for Chinese Kids

A boy playing games and wearing a headset
A boy playing games and wearing a headset (source)

Chinese children under the age of 18 will be able to play only three hours of online games in an average week under newly announced rules. Under 18-year-olds will have to do their playing between 8pm and 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, as well as on public holidays. Gaming companies will also be required to enforce real-name registration and be subject to more frequent inspections by the authorities.

The rules are meant to help protect the mental and physical health of Chinese children. Video game addiction has been identified as a serious problem among young Chinese. A recent article in a government-connected newspaper criticized video games as ‘spiritual opium’.

Stock prices for big Chinese gaming companies such as Tencent and NetEase fell on the news. At the same time, those companies said they support the new rules.

However, the gaming companies might not be able to control their young customers. There have been reports of children using their older family members’ identities and, in some cases, paying to use the identities of adult strangers to play games longer.


For source links, see the article on

Worksheet with activities


Hear the article spoken:

Useful Language

  • Require (v) - to make it necessary to do something
  • Enforce (v) - to make people follow a rule or law
  • Registration (n) - collecting names for an official list
  • Frequent (adj) - happening often
  • Inspection (n) - an official visit to see if rules are being followed
  • Authorities (n) - people in positions of power
  • Addiction (n) - the condition of being unable to stop using or doing something
  • Spiritual (adj) - related to the human spirit, not the body
  • Opium (n) - a powerful drug made from poppy flowers


Discuss the following questions with your partner(s).

  1. Do you play video games, or have you played video games in the past?
  2. How much time is reasonable to spend on gaming?
  3. How do you feel about the new online gaming time limits for under 18-year-olds?
  4. Is it the job of the government to control how long children spend playing games?
  5. What kinds of benefits do people get from playing video games?
  6. If you had a child, and they wanted to play video games, how long would you let them play for?
  7. What are the most dangerous addictions? Which ones are the unhealthiest?
  8. Are you addicted to anything? Have you been addicted to anything? When is it difficult to control yourself?
  9. What do you think ‘spiritual opium’ means?
  10. Do you think the Chinese gaming companies will be able to limit the amount that children play their games? Why or why not?
  11. If someone you know is under 18 and asks to borrow your identity to play games, will you let them? Why or why not?
  12. Why do you think the gaming companies support the new rules?