China is banning children from playing online games for more than three hours a week.
People under the age of 18 will only be allowed to play games between 8:00pm and 9:00pm on Fridays, weekends and on public holidays, starting on Thursday, according to a notice from the National Press and Publication Administration.
• Chinese authorities say they are concerned about youngsters getting addicted to gaming
• The new rules come as Beijing cracks down on China's tech giants
• The changes forced a sharp drop in most Chinese tech stocks on global share markets
That limits gaming to three hours a week for most weeks of the year, down from a previous restriction set in 2019 that allowed minors to play games for an hour and a half per day and three hours on public holidays.
Online gaming companies will be barred from providing gaming services to younger users, in any form, outside those hours.
The measures come in response to growing concerns over gaming addiction, according to China's Xinhua news agency.
Companies will be forced to ensure they have put real-name verification systems in place, the regulator, which oversees the country's video games market, said.
Tech companies, like Jack Ma's Alibaba Group, are coming under increasing scrutiny from the Chinese government. (Reuters: Charles Platiau)
The new rules come amid a broad crackdown by Beijing on China's tech giants, such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.
The abrupt changes have unnerved investors, hammering Chinese shares traded at home and abroad.
Tencent's stock price closed down 0.6 per cent on Monday ahead of the regulator's announcement. Its market capitalization of $US573 billion is down more than $US300 billion from its February peak, a decline equal to more than the total value of Nike or Pfizer.
New York-listed NetEase's stock was down about 9 per cent at the market's open.
The National Press and Publication Administration also told Xinhua it planned to increase the frequency and intensity of inspections for online gaming companies.
This would ensure they were putting in place time limits and anti-addiction systems, the regulator said.
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