New online addiction concerns being raised in China

Zhang Peng China Plus Published: 2017-06-19 19:13:10
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Two pupil are obsessed with mobile game. [Photo: VCG]

Two pupil are obsessed with mobile game. [Photo: VCG]

New concerns are being raised in China about online gaming addition in the wake of recent cases involving children stealing vast amounts of money from their parents to feed their habit.

A Shenzhen-based media outlet is reporting an 11-year-old boy from a poor family in the city managed to spend 30-thousand yuan (around 4,400 USD) on his mobile games, unbeknownst to his parents.

Another report shows a 10-year old boy in the city of Wuhan in Hebei Province covertly top up a mobile game with nearly 60-thousand yuan. He even deleted all the texts about the top-up information so his parents wouldn't find out.  

Zhao Liangshan is lawyer who has been working with a number of parents to try to recover the funds their children have spent.  He's told a Shanghai-based media outlet that more than 10 different parents have contacted him for help. So far he's been able to recover around 4,500 yuan for five families in lawsuits against the mobile game operators Tencent and 4399.com.

"However, there are still many others who decide not to take action, as they don't have a way to prove it was their child who spent the money," Zhao said.

Under Chinese regulations, online gaming companies aren't allowed to accept money from children.  However, these companies are unable to verify who is making the transaction when it's done electronically.

Zhao Liangshan is recommending online gaming companies update their systems to make ID checks more stringent.  He's also suggesting parents need to do a better job of monitoring their children's online activities.

As for the companies, Tencent says it’s also refunded money in certain individual cases where proof wasn't available.

"Although it is hard to provide evidence to prove the transaction was made by a child, we've returned the money in some cases out of care for the families themselves," a spokesperson for Tencent is being quoted. 

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