China to strengthen online education and gaming restrictions for minors

BEIJING, April 2 (Reuters) - China’s Ministry of Education will strengthen rules to protect children’s sleep by limiting online education and gaming services, it said on Friday.

In a statement on the ministry’s website, it said that online education companies should not offer minors live-streamed courses after 9 pm.

The ministry also said that companies should not provide minors with online gaming services between 10pm and 8am.

“Sleeping is essential to promote brain development, bone growth, vision protection, physical and mental health, and improve learning ability and efficiency of primary and secondary school students,” it said.

Investors have increased their bets on China’s online education sector, which has attracted growing interest after the coronavirus outbreak prompted a widespread switch to remote learning.

Leading startups in the field include GSX, Tencent-backed Yuanfudao and Alibaba-backed Zuoyebang.

China has also stepped up efforts to regulate the online gaming industry, citing concerns over potentially violent and addictive games, putting pressure on companies such as Tencent and Netease.

Reporting by Yingzhi Yang, Sophie Yu, Yilei Sun and Tony Munroe Editing by David Goodman