Academicians at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering have called for "a day without online games" after seeing an online photo of a note written by a so-called "left-behind" child, one of millions in the country who have at least one parent working away from home.
"I don't like the books and stationery you gave me. I want a smartphone to play 'Arena of Valor,'" wrote the child, referencing an online game popular in China, in a note handed to employees from a subsidiary of the State Grid Corporation of China in Jiangsu province who volunteered to help "left behind" children.
The employees shared a picture of the note in an article posted on the social media platform WeChat, writing that they are considering how to provide more emotional care to left-behind children and prevent them from becoming addicted to online games.
The child's wish aroused concern from 22 academicians, who said it revealed the increasingly dangerous effects of online games on Chinese youngsters.
They jointly proposed that all game operators pause services and that major websites block game-related content each year on International Children's Day, celebrated on June 1 in China, in an effort to strengthen social commitment to children's mental health.
They also called for full implementation of real-name registration for users and an age-based rating system for games in a proposal published on May 31 in the China Science Daily, a newspaper run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The number of young gamers in China reached 191 million in December 2015, according to statistics provided by the China Youth Association for Network Development (CYAND), an organization focused on proper internet usage for young Chinese people.
There are over 24 million young "internet addicts' in China's urban areas, and another nearly 18.6 million showing "a propensity for the condition", according to a survey by the CYAND.
In addition, Chinese youngsters tend to begin using the internet at an early age, with 60 percent starting between the ages of 6 and 10, according to a survey by the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League.