By Gaurav Sharma
Growing addiction to online gaming among youth has alarmed the Chinese government which is mulling banning people under the age of 18 from playing on the internet after midnight.
The concern is so high that the government may also open rehabilitation centres for game addicts.
China has the world's largest internet population -- around 750 million. Those aged between 10 and 39 years comprise 74 per cent of internet users while 20 per cent are between 10 and 19 years of age.
Chinese youth spend a considerable amount of time on the internet, especially online gaming. The mushrooming game parlours have the government worried which sees them as a menace.
The government has sought feedback from the public. If the ban is passed, those aged below 18 will not be able to play online games between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m.
Besides, the duration of continuous play will also be determined for minors who will have to produce an ID number.
Young netizens have already expressed their anger on Weibo -- the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
This is not the first time that such measures have been adopted. In 2007, game operators were instructed to deduct points from younger players in case they spent more than three hours on a game.
(Gaurav Sharma is the Beijing-based correspondent for IANS. He can be contacted at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)