China Focus: Addiction to mobile games concerns Chinese parents

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-30 23:53:49|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) -- As the summer vacation approaches, how to control their children, especially how to stop them squandering money on mobile games, has become one of Chinese parents' major concerns.

In early June, a story emerged in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province of a single mother who found she had a credit card bill of over 18,000 yuan (2,660 U.S. dollars). The money had been spent on mobile games by her triplet sons, who took her phone to pay for the games and deleted the payment notification texts afterwards.

In April, a 17-year-old gamer in south China's Guangzhou was diagnosed with cerebral infarction, after playing a popular online game called King of Glory for 40 hours nonstop.

These are just two of the many cases related to mobile games that have been buzzing on the Internet in China over the past few months.

According to a report released by China Internet Network Information Center in January, 170 million under-18s are online in China, while 43.7 percent of them spend over an hour on tablets and smartphones each day.

In 2016, the total revenue of the games industry reached 165 billion yuan, increasing by 17.7 percent from 2015. Despite this contribution to the economy, the way games are paid for still draws plenty of public criticism.

What's worse, parents often face big problems when they try to get their money back from the game companies. For Han Ying, a lawyer who has been keeping an eye on the issue, proof is the biggest obstacle for parents.

The "proof" that parents have to show often includes bills, purchase history, and even video clips of children playing the games, which is to prove that it is them who paid the money.

"But it's almost impossible to decide whether it was the children's behavior, merely by observing online behavior," she admitted.

Stronger action has already been taken. In January, the State Council, China's cabinet released a set of rules to protect under-18s on the Internet, including limiting playing time, as well as demanding an identity registration and an anti-doping system in games.

In May, the Ministry of Culture issued a statement to strengthen the identity registration system in online games to control payments made by children, as according to the Civil Law, those under 10 have no capacity for civil conduct, while for those aged between 10 and 18, it is limited.

However, He Jihua, deputy to the National People's Congress, found in his investigations that a lot of mobile games had a rather loose identity registration system, and some even teach juvenile players how to avoid the system.

"The rules and censoring of mobile games should be stricter and more comprehensive," he said, suggesting methods such as face recognition in the login process.

"Preventing children becoming addicting to online games is a complex project," said Deng Lili, a researcher on animations and games at Peking University. "It requires the joint efforts of families, schools and business."

Zhu Wei, associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law, echoed Deng's views. "Only with the cooperation of supervisors, the game companies and society, can supervision truly make a difference."

Others specifically call for a bigger role for parents.

"It makes no sense for parents to blame the games for the children's addiction," said "Xielaoban" on the Twitter-like Weibo. "They have to teach their children not to get addicted."