China has launched a new initiative that aims to give parents direct control of their children’s online gaming accounts, including the ability to force game operators to restrict the time and length of play, the South China Morning Post reported. Some operators, including Shanda Games (GAME.NASDAQ), have already been ordered to set up hotlines and web pages to respond to parents’ enquiries about their children’s online behavior. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has reported that the mainland has 33 million teenage internet "addicts," and Beijing has been struggling to find solutions. Previous attempts have included a system that automatically logged out players after five uninterrupted hours of play, and the establishment of internet addiction camps in which children were beaten or subjected to surgery or electric shocks to "cure" the disease. But there are concerns about the effectiveness of the new regulation, given the ease with which children can change computers and user identities. To that end, Beijing last month launched a project to consolidate internet cafes, requiring that gaming accounts be associated with official identification cards.
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