China targets gaming to save children’s eyesight

Authorities will limit the number of new and online games.

China's education ministry has revealed a plan to protect kids' and teens' eyesight, with measures including regulating the number of online games and new releases, and limiting gaming time. As part of the plan, which several other ministries support, the General Administration of Press and Publication may implement an age-appropriate reminder system, along with other measures to limit playing time. President Xi Jinping had recently urged greater focus on the issue, citing World Health Organization data suggesting the country has the highest rate of childhood near-sightedness in the world.

The goal is to reduce the myopia rate in kids and teens by 0.5 percent overall per year by 2023, and by over one percent per year in provinces where near-sightedness is a bigger issue. By 2030, the ministry hopes to control the myopia rate in six-year-olds at 3 percent, 38 percent for all primary school-age students, under 60 percent for junior high students and below 70 percent for high schoolers.

The ministry wants parents to cut down kids' screen time; ensure they have healthy sleep schedules and adequate nutrition; and encourage them to play outdoors and form sturdy exercise habits. It also demands that schools conduct eye exercises for students every day, and limit use of electronics to 30 percent of total teaching time.

The gaming aspect of the plan could spell some trouble for the likes of Epic Games, whose megahit Fortnite is available in China. The ultrapopular battle royale mode is free-to-play but has microtransactions for cosmetic items -- if fewer people are playing or they're doing so less often, Epic's revenue could take a hit.