It must be glorious to be a parent of a teenager – in China. In its latest incarnation as Mai-Baap Zedong, the Chinese State has invoked rules for under-18s with regard to their gaming hours. State regulators have gone straight to the supply side – the demand side being unreliable, devious and ingenious. Online gaming companies will be shut down if they provide their services to minors beyond the prescribed timings of 8 pm to 9 pm on Fridays to Sundays and on public holidays. This, as any nation once hooked to both opium and the ‘opium of the masses’ knows, is ‘for their own good’.
For parents in chaotic societies like India, putting restrictions on their children’s play time is bound to create, at best, intergenerational disaffection, and, at worst, calls for azadi. And, with a one-party system still a $10 trillion-by-2030 kind of challenge, no government – not even Nitish Kumar’s teetotalitarian kind in Bihar – would dare to invite hostility from a future vote bank. The Mai-Baap Zedong system may well go the next hog: allow phones and internet access to youngsters only for certain hours. The slogan – ‘Parents of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your children being chained to video games!’ – may be appealing enough to everyone to send their wards to China’s schools to instil some good old discipline.