China rolls out rules to stop Internet gaming addiction

China's growing band of young Internet gamers will face virtual penalties if they stay online for more than three hours, under a new set of rules to combat cyber addiction, an AFP report said.

The AFP report said Chinese authorities have voiced increasing concern in recent months about the number of teenagers who spend hours and sometimes days in Internet cafes playing games.

In the latest measure to combat the problem, eight government departments have issued new rules that will force Internet gaming companies and operators to install and run 'anti-addiction' software, local paper China Daily reported.

Gamers under the age of 18 will receive full points in their online world only for the first three hours of play, which the government has deemed as the limit for the 'healthy' amount of time to be glued to the Internet, the report said.

If young gamers choose to stay on-line, they will get half the normal points for the next two hours. Any gaming after five hours of play will not recoup any points, the report said.

The new rules will come into force on April 15, with games to be closed down from July 16 if they are not installed with the anti-addiction software, according to the China Daily.

China has about 137 million online users, of which 31 million are Internet gamers, the report said.