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Chinese technology and media company Tencent has revealed that it is now using facial recognition technology to stop kids in China from spending their late night hours on mobile games.
In a social media post on the Chinese platform QQ, Tencent explained that the technology works by checking accounts registered to adults if they’re found to be playing Tencent-published games between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.
IMAGE: South China Morning Post
The technology then runs a facial recognition test via the phone’s front-facing cameras to determine if the one playing games on the device is the same as the individual registered to the account.
Consequently, any user who refuses to be verified, or who fails the test will be classed as a minor, and will be locked out from the Tencent-created gaming apps on the device.
According to Tencent, the facial recognition technology is accurate up to 99.8 percent, and should prevent most youngsters from attempting to bluff their way into more late-night gaming.
Of course, some adults have also been locked out of their games by accident, but Tencent has suggested that they just wait to verify themselves again when next prompted.
A hard limit on gaming.
This implementation comes amid China’s official curfew that limits the amount of time that minors (aged 18 and under) are allowed to spend on playing video games each day. Currently, minors in China are only allowed to enjoy gaming for no more than 90 minutes per day within the confines of the curfew.
The policy was enacted due to concerns of rising video game addiction levels among Chinese youth, as well as the desire to have them engage in more beneficial and productive activities.
Ostensibly, this curfew seems to be at odds with Tencent’s interests, especially considering that it is the world’s biggest publisher of video games, with various major studios and intellectual properties such as League of Legends and Valorant sitting firmly under its corporate umbrella.
However, the company has agreed to go along with China’s intentions to limit the amount of hours that Chinese youth can sink into video games, and has introduced the new facial recognition lock-out feature as an obligatory gesture. This echoes similar moves by other Chinese video game companies who have sought to comply with the government’s objectives for its youth.
Aptly enough, it has framed the technology as a way to encourage more regular sleeping hours for kids rather than a cut-off for gaming.
Addressing concerns regarding privacy, Tencent also reassured its users that while the concept of using facial recognition to limit gaming hours was new, the technology itself has been in use for years, with payment services and mobile app logins making use of it on a daily basis.
As of June 2021, it was reported that an average of 5.8 million accounts trigger facial verification processes during logins, and that 28,000 facial scans are done to verify purchases every day.
Do you think this is a good way to stop kids from gaming too much, or is it just a tad excessive?
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