A child plays the game “Honour of Kings” by Tencent at home in Dezhou, Shandong province, China July 2, 2017. Source: Reuters

How Tencent plans to tackle child gaming addiction in China

CHINA’S biggest video gaming and social media company has often come under fire from the government over fueling gaming addiction to children and teenagers, and now the IT giant is planning to introduce digital contracts allowing parents and children to negotiate reasonable play times.

The company’s move comes after a barrage of criticism that children were neglecting their studies to play games produced by Tencent.

Now, Tencent’s chief executive Ma Huateng, also known as Pony Ma, has offered a solution.

“With the proposed feature, children can exchange their playing time by doing housework or reaching certain [academic] scores,” Ma told reporters on Saturday.

“Children can ask their friends to witness the signing of the contract.”

Ma was speaking on sidelines of the annual meetings of China’s two governing bodies, the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Tencent’s chief executive announced future plans to introduce games that help children with learning math and science. Source: YouTube

The billionaire tech magnate is a delegate to the National People’s Congress.

Earlier, a delegate of the CPCC, Yu Xinwen, a vice-president of Guangzhou University, had called on the government urged Beijing to restrict online games according to age classifications.

“Some online games have become the new opium to poison the growth of teenagers,” Yu said.

Yu likely alluded to Tencent’s top-grossing game Honor of Kings. A series of past controversies led to the company imposing time restrictions on play after state media claimed students were stating up late to play the mobile game, causing them to neglect class and homework.

Ma, however, is looking to change the negative perception by announcing future plans to introduce games that help children with learning math and science.

The company, which is based in Shenzen, is considered to be the largest video game publisher in the world, valued at over US$500 billion.