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Mobile gaming

Chinese schoolchildren hiring phones to get video game fix

Smartphone cafes are springing up in two Chinese cities catering to youngsters whose parents will not buy them a mobile to play games on, news website reports

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 11:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 12:53pm

“Smartphone cafes” – where children can rent phones for 1 yuan (16 US cents) an hour to play video games – are springing up in areas close to primary and secondary schools in two Chinese cities, according to a news website report. 

The businesses cater to children in Nanchang and Jiujiang in Jiangxi province whose parents have not given them smartphones, but who want to play video games on them, Thepaper.cn reported. 

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“My mum will not let me play any games because she only wants me to study,” one primary school pupil was quoted as saying, who visits one of the cafes once a month. 

One of the cafes in Nanchang is only 30 meters away from a primary school. A frequent primary school customer said it offered a range of smartphones, with trending mobile game apps downloaded, to rent. Tablet computers are also for hire. 

Another cafe in Jiangxi was originally a milk tea and stationery shop. It now sells “10 yuan packages” allowing young customers to get a milk tea and play with the smartphones in the store. 

The new trend has created concerns among parents, according to the report.

“I’ve not bought my child a smartphone in order to keep him studying. I didn’t expect him to be able to get hold of one,” one parent was quoted as saying after finding out his child has been visiting the cafes after school. 

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Police and culture ministry officials in Nanchang have given some cafes a verbal warning, but the report did not give details of what concerns they raised. 

The government officials were quoted as saying, however, that there was no way to penalise the smartphone cafes as they are not regulated by laws covering internet cafes, which cannot be opened within 200 metres of a school in China.