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Tencent deploys facial recognition to detect minors gaming at night (sixthtone.com)
376 points by jonbaer 78 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 419 comments


>wake up feeling sick after a late night of playing video games

>excited to play some halo infinite

>"xbox on"


>"Please verify that you are "annon332" by saying Doritos™ Dew™ it right!"

>"ERROR! Please drink a verification can"

>reach into my Dontos Mountain Halo War Chest

>only a few cans left, needed to verify 14 times last night

>still feeling sick from the 14

>force it down and grumble out "mmmm that really hit the spot"

>xbox does nothing

>i attempt to smile

>"Connecting to verification server"

>"Verification complete!"


>boot up halo infinite

>finding multiplayer match...

>"ERRORI User attempting to steal online gameplay!"

>my mother just walked in the room

>"Adding another user to your pass, this will be charged to your credit card. Do you accept?"


>"Console entering lock state!"

>"to unlock drink verification can"

>last can

>"WARNING, OUT OF VERIFICATION CANS, an order has been shipped and charged to your credit card"

>drink half the can, oh god im going to be sick

>pour the last half out the window


>the mountain dew ad plays

>i have to dance for it

>feeling so sick

>makes me sing along

>dancing and singing

>"mountain dew is for me and you"

>throw up on my self

>throw up on my tv and entertainment system

>router shorts


Xbox actually recently came out with an Xbox branded minifridge and it immediately made me think of this. Sounds like it's an april fools joke but Im pretty sure it's legit


(If you've never read Venus, Inc. it's even better than Manna and it's more on-point; and it was written in the 1950s!)


Amazing book, written by a former Madison Avenue employee (the subject of "Mad Men")

I think someone should make a movie or TV series out of this, it'd be the perfect parody of Mad Men in particular and our messed up hyper-corporate dystopia in general

Who would have thought a greentext would be so on-point.

Can someone stop HN from becoming 4chan?

Already happened.

> the mountain dew ad plays > i have to dance for it

This is the real nightmare, active (mandatory) ad participation.

Drink the Kool Aid, say "Oh Yeah!!!"

This is I believe the first time in human history that AI video cameras have been widely deployed, inside private homes, for the purpose of enforcing laws. Never mind the banal details: this is an incredible milestone.

The chinese app wechat already does this in private homes for the purpose of enforcing KYC and "misinformation tracking" - you are required to repeat after it, repeat every phoneme/syllable to form a voiceprint (and coincidentally enough to basically train something to replicate your speech), look straight ahead, rotate around your head, and follow its instructions to sign in again.

Also, asking two verified-ID mainland china users to "vouch" for you and be responsible for your activities if you are a foreigner.

Almost every service in China requires "real name verification" - you can't play games without it, for example.

This has been place for several years, https://i.imgur.com/FBrCwuX.jpg

This verification process exists in Europe as well (it's called liveness verification), example: https://www.jumio.com/technology/live-detection/

The technology exists, right. But have you experienced it anywhere outside of China? I, for one, have not (at least in the UE). I strongly believe that the average western customer is not be willing to go through such a process.

Most (all maybe?) of the new German banks and fintech products seem to offer it as they have no physical branches, you can often open accounts directly from your smartphone. Some will offer a way of identifying yourself via a post office with your passport too.

What the person above means is different. If you open an account, nowadays you have to ask someone that already has a Wechat account to scan a QR code to vouch that you are indeed who you claim to be. It doesn't actually do ID identification though and it doesn't have to be a Chinese mainland user. It can be any other active Wechat account. Full ID Identification only works with a China mainland bank account IIRC.

What the person above implies is that the other two are on the hook when you start spreading any Government information. I'd assume that the government would investigate anyone in your friend list if you do that though regardless of whether they verified you or not, so it's kind of a minor detail in my opinion.

> What the person above means is different

What person? The first paragraph in ev1’s comment (and the ‘liveness’ reference in the reply) are not about ‘vouching’.

Really? I’m outside of China, and signed up for WeChat (for work) but never had to do any of the KYC things. They only took my number to send an OTP.

If they ask for KYC in the mainland I suppose it’s understandable since it serves a lot more than a chat app there (payment, SSO for a lot of other services).

When I tried to install WeChat because I was going to travel to China, it kept making me verify my account repeatedly, I guess it was because my phone was rooted...

Got it, thanks for clarifying.

This is for the equivalent of Facebook Messenger or playing a F2P game, not fintech - bank requires even more, and linking a "real name ID" IRL bank account anyway.

Wechat in the mainland actually does do fintech.

Basically every modern "mobile-first" bank/stock brokerage app, etc. is built on that. With a lot of them there is still a human in the process giving you the instructions (usually from a call center), but it's gradually shifting to tech-only solutions.

I used it to access my medical records from the UK without actually going to the UK.

I thought that was reasonable, but it didn't occur to me that reading the numbers was enough to train an AI to reproduce my voice. Now I'm less sure.

It's common when applying for a credit online. They also make you hold your ID towards the camera, show the hologram, read some text etc.

I called Fidelity in the US about my account, and the agent told me the system was taking a voice print, to be used to verify me the next time I called in.

Did you tell them to opt you out...?

My guess is you can't.

I've signed up for several bank accounts lately (due to the 85k insurance limit on UK banks). All of them had this "liveness verification".

I think it's actually a legal requirement in the UK if they wish to allow you to sign up online.

You cannot activate a sim card in Germany without proof of ID

That's hardly comparable though. No one is taking your voice print and biometric details to match everything you ever say or do against you just to activate a sim card. Not to mention that buying a travel sim card that doesn't require ID is absolutely trivial, or even getting one shipped from any other European country which doesn't have this requirement is simple and easy.

Yeah it's a faff, but at least no one will accuse you of being an enemy of the state if you do this like trying to avoid tagging in China.

> No one is taking your voice print and biometric details

Some Italian cell operators do. For example, when you are buying a new sim card for Iliad, you do this in front of an automated kiosk where you have to scan your ID, then face camera and say outloud "my name is Insert Your Name Here, and I would like to make a phone service contract with Iliad".

Is that for voice printing purposes, or is it in lieu of signing your name on a paper contract?

Ok, I stand corrected then :-) Had no idea this was a thing.

> No one is taking your voice print

SIM cards are used for transmitting voice in an insecure fashion, so you can't be sure. Some voice codecs are even designed to do something very similiar to fingerprinting voices.

> No one is taking your [...] biometric details

They were already taken when you had¹ to get the ID in the first place.

¹ The federal republic directly adopted laws from nazi germany requiring ID for every citizen. This law was initially introduced to acquire data about jews and people fit for military service.

> to match everything you ever say or do against you just to activate a sim card

This was never about surveillance by private entities! Federal agencys can match everything you say based on the fact that the SIM card in your portable bug is linked directly to you.

> but at least no one will accuse you of being an enemy of the state if you do this like trying to avoid tagging in China.

You can be certain that you end up in a database if you use a foreign SIM card from a non-KYC-country for a long period of time in a residential area. Your only defence is your network provider not cooperating unless forced by law.

Germany is being turned into a surveillance state bit by bit and I am fed up by people trying to defend it!

>>You can be certain that you end up in a database if you use a foreign SIM card from a non-KYC-country for a long period of time in a residential area. Your only defence is your network provider not cooperating unless forced by law.

I've literally been doing this for the last 11 years, guess I'm screwed then :P

>>They were already taken when you had¹ to get the ID in the first place.

Yes, and the mobile operator doesn't get them, while in the article discussed it's the "private" operator gathering all this data.

>>SIM cards are used for transmitting voice in an insecure fashion, so you can't be sure.

The difference being, that here it's done openly and in a visible fashion "either you do this, or you can't play our games".

>>¹ The federal republic directly adopted laws from nazi germany requiring ID for every citizen.

That sounds about on a level with an argument that since Hitler was vegetarian, all vegetarians are nazis. Your country adopted a lot of laws from the Third Reich. Mine adopted a lot of laws from the communist republic it once was. Neither fact makes those countries anything like their predecessors. The law that every citizen has to have an ID is a good one IMHO(wait for Americans to chime in and say this is against their personal freedom or something).

> The difference being, that here it's done openly and in a visible fashion "either you do this, or you can't play our games".

So hidden surveillance is more ok than open violations?

> That sounds about on a level with an argument that since Hitler was vegetarian, all vegetarians are nazis.

I just wanted to explain why germans have to have an ID.

>>So hidden surveillance is more ok than open violations?

I knew someone would inevitably come to this conclusion.

No, of course it's not better. But this article is very specifically about an open and overt gathering of biometric data.

In my experience travelling internationally, linking SIM cards to ID (either on purchase, or on activation) is more common than not.

I've had to add this exact functionality ("Look left and repeat these numbers") as part of KYC for a mobile app similar to Revolut.

This is in conjunction with ID scanning.

I think this functionality was necessary as part of complying with KYC laws. And AFAIK WeChat has very similar functionality to Revolut (among much more) so even if the app was non-Chinese (e.g. European), it would need a similar flow.

Yes in Estonia is quite common

Yep, in the UK. My solicitor required it for kyc for a house purchase during the pandemic

Nice. Mine required me to send them certified originals and a handwritten declaration through the post.

Seems I need a more tech-savvy solicitor...

Seems you are in fine hands.

I believe that the average customer anywhere just don't care. I care but nonetheless did go through such a process as it was somewhat required for me to pay taxes on Brazil using 'Gov.br' SSI app.

Yes, in the US, when signing up for cryptocurrency related services like Coinbase or Binance I believe.

Yes, I have.

Which ever service implements this can be sure to have seen the last of me.

You probably play/have played games owned by these companies.

I probably didn't.


Know your customer

Basically identifying your customer and confirming their identity, e.g. via a video call or at a post office etc.

Know them so well, you can deepfake them later and make their avatar say whatever you want. Nice job if you can get it!

(Kind of like the scarier version of the store cashier stealing your credit card digits - because you can’t just order a new one.)

"Know Your Customer"

In the West, KYC means that a bank is going to ask to see your ID before letting you open an account.

In China, KYC means that, in order to use something as pedestrian as social media, you have to let the CCP AI dragnet build a profile that can be used to surveil you for the rest of your life.

Wechat is basically a bank as you can use it to send money, hence KYC. If all the CCP wanted was to build a profile they'd just ask for ID and then scoop up every call you make.

Wechat is basically everything for mainland users.

Need to pay registration for car? Wechat

Need to verify covid screening to enter the country as a resident? Wechat

Need to request a taxi? Wechat

Need to pay your electricity bill? Wechat

EVERYTHING is done through wechat.

Yes, indeed. That said put in another way, they're just a bank and Facebook at the same time, which is indeed scary. Not that it would be very different if they were different services for spying purposes, the government can always centralize the data.

I wonder if it's even possible for Chinese citizens to play rouge/nethack.

China is the last rouge world superpower, and also rogue.

Are you discounting that Russia is rogue or a superpower?

Russia isn't rouge, i.e., red.

Cute, but there's lots of rouge around the world - it's even popular in the USA these days.

As privacy invading it is, I can easily see how this would be effective means to curb bad behavior online, such as trolling or spamming—or worse.

Hahahahahaha, I'm sorry. This is a ridiculous take. It sounds as if you are justifying handing over your entire digital identity, which includes given someone so much information about yourself that you could be easily impersonated, is justifiable because it will cut down on online trolling? Not to mention, you are giving all of this information to a regime that regularly "disappears" people for dissenting stances, and is actually running literal concentration camps.

Nothing in the post you replied to was a justification, and in fact starts with "As privacy-invading as it is".

> As privacy invading it is, I can easily see how this would be effective means to curb bad behavior online, such as trolling or spamming—or worse.

I'm not so sure about that, reading Facebook comment threads on news articles clearly shows that a real name policy isn't really stopping people from misbehaving online.

If Facebook isn't able to make money from moderating such content, then there's no reason to think they would do it.

Might a real name policy have toned down the communication that lead to case Tenacity https://github.com/tenacityteam/tenacity/issues/99 , though?

As human rights invading as it is, I can easily see how forced sterilization would be an effective means to curb bad genetics, such as being short or fat - or worse.

I hope there are very few people with your mentality

What mentality? I did not say it would be worth the price, just that there are things to gain from it.

I did notice nobody outright challenged the actual claim (except for the Facebook comment that touched the topic).

That can already be done through paid accounts and moderation. There is zero excuse for this level of privacy invasion.

...a milestone towards the totalitarian dystopia previously only encountered in science fiction.

This shit is so utterly unacceptable and yet there will be no significant mass behind protests against it.

Why won’t you think of the children?

Nah, the new argument is "we need this to prevent spread of covid"

It's amazing! Hundreds of SciFi writers predicted such surveillance, I dont think many predicted it arrive by invitation - i expect many parents will support this.

Same for smart speakers. It's a hairs breadth away from complete audio & video surveillance.

Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep?

Semi-coherent and very subjective thoughts about my favorite book follow. Sorry, I just have to gush.

Eh, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was more about empathy, the meaning of humanity, how we justify segregation, etc; its perspective on the human condition was at a much more fundamental/introspective level than the issues discussed in this thread. Though I suppose there might be parallels between the empathy box and the Mountain-Dew (TM) greentext in the top comment.

The subjugated population--the andys--were used not to critique subjugation itself as much as the analyze the implications of the justifications behind that subjugation, especially given the the fact that andys don't feel empathy and had to break the law to be where they are (and the protagonist + POV is a law enforcement officer). It wasn't about the what as much as it was about the why and its implications.

Books that critique the existence of norms/institutions are great, but my favorites are books that choose to accept their presented status-quos but analyze what the implications are and what accepting that status-quo means about ourselves; readers can then look inside themselves and make their own calls. It's the epitome of "show, don't tell".

The real clever kids will eventually realise you can just tape a post-it note to your head with "ADULT" written in sharpie.

The real clever kids will eventually realize that those games from Tencent are just stupid money grabbing time wasters, and then stop playing.

Sadly, most people are not that smart. Which is one reason why so many people are willing to give up their privacy AND money in exchange for the "permission" to use those services.

draw on a fake beard



I know you're joking, but a law was passed in Xinjiang back in 2014 preventing people with beards from riding public transport. You literally had to shave before you could board a bus.

Why? Was it an anti-Muslim thing? Disgusting anyways.

Putting the discrimination aside (well that sounded insensitive but bear with me), very sorry for those poor people who are like me, who get a red face for DAYS after shaving.

>Was it an anti-Muslim thing?

Officially, no. But in reality, yes. They want to make the Uyghurs more Han to reduce feelings of separatism.

Do you know what the euphemistic justification was? “Cleanliness”? I cannot think of one that is not absurd to even the dimmest ethno-nationalist of my imagination.

If I had to guess they'd just say the beard is a symbol of separatism, therefore if you refuse to shave then we might consider you to be sympathetic to the separatist movement, you wouldn't want us to think that, would you?

It's circular logic but probably good enough for the fascists...

> It's circular logic but probably good enough for the fascists...

Er, fascists? We're talking about the CCP here -- these are communists.

Geez, serves me right for using an "-ist" word and getting an anal retentive "They're a different sort of '-ist'" comment.

The Wikipedia definition "Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy" seems to tick all the boxes in the case of China, although I don't know if they fit the definition "far right" (too lazy to see if they tick those other boxes).

The problem with "-ist" and "-ism" words is everyone has their own definition what this means. Bernie Sanders can call himself a socialist that thinks the rich should be taxed more, and some dumbass will think he hates Jews because the Nazi party also has the word "Socialism" in it.

Also, if you want to say "They're communists because that word is in their party name", then the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea must be a great place to live, since they're democratic, and belong to the people!

They wish to completely eradicate all Uyghur culture. "One China" means one Han race and culture.

There are very few countries worldwide that can look through their history and not find a single culture that has been eliminated or at least marginalized.

There are very few countries worldwide actually presently engaged in attempting to eliminate an entire culture.

I don't think this is what they mean about "shaving face" being important in Chinese culture. :P

Not inside the private homes, but in 2008, Tabaco vending machines with facial recognition feature to verify the age(20+ years old) are deployed in Japan.

The result was amusing. It was busted by picture of adult face, or by kids moving facial muscles.

Taspo and the “I am truthfully and honestly over 20” button at convenience stores aren’t meant to stop anyone. They only exist so the government and industry can claim they are cracking down on underage smoking and drinking, not to actually stop underage people from smoking and drinking, because how boring would that be?

They did that to verify your age to buy cigarettes on a vending machine a short amount of time in Austria. Obviously everyone was tricking it with paper masks.

Today they use banking cards, which still work for age verification after they expired so they are just shared between the youngsters

Of course it was. They want minors to buy the stuff.

The facial recognition was just a distraction to evade law enforcement.

I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same with these games. In fact, I would be surprised if a company went to great lengths to reduce their potential consumer base.

I think they exist mostly to make busybody moral guardians STFU. They don’t actually buy smokes at vending machines or alcohol at 7-11 so have no idea if the measure work or not.

This company has a stake in many American companies. How chilling

Tencent is doing this to comply to Chinese laws. They won't do this if there is no such law. And the law says: "internet gaming companies have responsibility to not provide internet gaming service to minors between 10pm and 8am". I am sure tencent won't want to do this if they had the chance. 1) it limits their ability to get play time and sell to kids. 2) its more work on their end.

So the main problem here is the law. Not Tencent. But many Chinese people support and even called for this law. The supports for this law is cultural, circumstantial and societal.

In the US, Tencent should adhere to US laws and cultural customs. First, for this specific case, Tencent won't implement it outside of China because 1) why would they limit their own ability to make money 2)why would they not align with US culture? Second, If US has a law that bans using facial recognition, all companies will comply and these issues will not exists. You can enforce practices and values through laws.

Also this is Tencent specific system. They are using facial recognition to verify the current user is who they say they are. Just like IPhone has face ID. Because for other verification methods, kids just bypasses them. And I believe they only do verification ones during the banned hours. It doesn't consistently monitor you. The law targets online gaming providers, and fines them if they provide service outside the allowed hours. It doesn't incarcerate kids. Law enforcement doesn't track kids playing games and when they play. And Tencent doesn't share kids data with law enforcement.

>Tencent is doing this to comply to Chinese laws.

Tencent, like all major Chinese corporations, is just a thinly veiled extension of the Chinese state. And I'm sure someone will try a "no u" about Facebook etc. effectively being extensions of the US government but that doesn't change the reality of how all major corps in China operate.

> Chinese corporations [are an] extension of the Chinese state

The Chinese state defines Chinese laws so this is basically restating the GP's point that "Tencent is doing this to comply to Chinese laws"

It's technically true for American corporations (which follow American laws created by the American government), but as you mention, it's not quite the same because the American system of government has significantly higher inertia and building consensus is significantly higher effort, so you generally only see the effect in certain industries that span decades-long bi-partisan projects (e.g. military industrial complex)

national security letters and secret courts have no inertia and need no bipartisan consensus.

the political theatre is only when they don't want to do something and delay. the state is swift with pursuing its interests.

> national security letters and secret courts have no inertia and need no bipartisan consensus.

I would argue these have already met overwhelming bipartisan consensus over the past few decades (particularly since 9/11). Your average privacy nut (myself included) are not too happy about it, your average person knows nothing about it, but your average senator or governor is strongly in favor.

Americans quite like out-of-sight out-of-mind solutions to problems involving Bad People, even unsavory solutions like mass spying or drone killings. The moment that the national security powers for example start blocking porn or video games, consensus and acceptance would instantly disappear.

Also China would probably prefer American kids stay up all night playing games and fucking up in school etc

> They won't do this if there is no such law.

They will, if they can make money doing it.

You don't even know the half of it. (Or maybe you do.)

The word "incredible" usually has a positive connotation, of something impressive being achieved that benefits society. Those case is incredible, but has such severe privacy concerns that there is no such positive effect present. AI has a great deal of promise if used responsibly, but gross invasion of privacy shows promise of a different kind. This is a horrific milestone.

>first time in human history that AI video cameras have been widely deployed, inside private homes, for the purpose of enforcing laws

Knowingly maybe. But all those IP Cameras have had face detection for almost a decade, They've been deployed extensively in homes around the world, They've been phoning to their home to provide even basic features or at least the DDNS based features and are riddled with vulnerabilities.

One could use firewall, custom firmware to fix this to an extent but not everyone has the means or intention to do it.

It's not the first time. All smartfones have a microfone and a camera. And if you think that they are used only for making pictures and talking on the phone - dream on.

Don’t you think someone — possibly a user of this site — would have noticed the network traffic?

Not only are you implying that there is a back door in the phone operating systems, but also in every other device on the same network as the phone to hide such traffic.

What you’re suggesting is certainly possible, but the idea that it’s been rolled out to the average person doesn’t seem likely.

> back door in the phone operating systems

If there is a generic backdoor it's certainly not in the OS but rather in the modems firmware. The scary part is that all modem manufacturers are based in countrys that are known to violate human rights in organized ways.

> What you’re suggesting is certainly possible, but the idea that it’s been rolled out to the average person doesn’t seem likely.

It's a known fact that government agencys of certain states hack devices of people they target. An "average person" is still affected by this since they can be targeted "by accident" for multiple reasons. (e.g. through friends, being at suspicious locations, wrong vacation destination etc.) So it doesn't even matter if a device is backdoored.

> Don’t you think someone — possibly a user of this site — would have noticed the network traffic?

Given how much analytics garbage phones regularly spew out, you'd have to perform HTTPS MITM attacks to check this – and that's the kind of thing that alters the behaviour of the system you're measuring.

I still don't think it's likely, but if somebody were to find some suspicious code, I have no real reason to doubt that it's doing something like this.

> Given how much analytics garbage phones regularly spew out

Thank god¹ android is open source.

¹ Not religious, I just don't want to thank google :\

I wonder how Linus Torvalds feels about God taking credit for Android being open source?

I wonder how all the other contributors feel about Linus getting all the credit :D

Thank Linus?

They didn't have to make the userland, which is arguably a big part, open source so I opted for google...

Don’t you think someone — possibly a user of this site — would have noticed the network traffic?

I notice a lot of network traffic coming from my phone to *.googleapis.com network endpoints, even when I'm not using my phone. So I'm not sure what point you're trying to make?

Isn't it suspected that, at least with a warrant, the police in the US can request that a phone's mic be turned on, even when the phone is asleep?

For context, these are China's current restrictions on gaming for minors (under age 18):

- Maximum 1.5 hours of gaming on weekdays

- Maximum 3 hours of gaming on weekends

- No games between 10pm and 8am (note that school typically starts between 7 and 8am)

South Korea has similar types of restrictions, by the way. No gaming for minors (under 16) between midnight and 6am. I think Vietnam may have something similar as well.

I had no idea such laws existed. That's pretty crazy. But then, this is a gov't that does not trust its citizens to raise their own children, or even historically to decide how many kids to have.

When I was a kid in America, my parents disallowed videogames in the house. No NES or Genesis for us. On the occasions I'd go over to other kids' houses and play, I had no idea what I was doing. On the one hand, this seemed oppressive. But at least it was coming from my parents, not from the gov't.

What we did have was a Mac II that I had pretty much free reign on, as long as I wasn't playing games. This is how I learned to code - trying to write my own games. In the long run, it made me a pretty bad gamer; I have the gaming equivalent of an eating disorder (I have serious guilt issues with playing anything for more than a couple hours). But it made me a pretty decent hacker.

Obviously, it's disgusting for the gov't to do anything along these lines with facial recognition of minors who should be even more protected from surveillance than the adult public. Extremely Orwellian. But I'm interested what kind of unanticipated side effects it might have as far as kids learning to roll-their-own entertainment.

> But then, this is a gov't that does not trust its citizens to raise their own children, or even historically to decide how many kids to have.

The Chinese government is worse than most others, but not for this reason. All governments and societies make all kinds of "tyrannical" rules about raising children, in the name of limiting harm to children. This is no different.

In Germany, the government does not trust parents to home-school their children

In the US, legal adults between the ages of 18 and 21 can decide to join the Army, travel to exotic lands and die there. The same adults are not trusted to make the decision of buying and drinking beer.

> In Germany, the government does not trust parents to home-school their children

This is to protect children from their parents, this "anti-excessive-gaming" bullshit is directly attacking personal agency! If you have the resources (time, money, teachers etc.) to get your children the same education they would get in a (german) public school you might as well found a private one. This is even incentivized by federal and local government. ("Freie Trägerschaft")

(Anecdotal warning:) Everyone I've met (about a dozen people) who wanted to home school their children did so for a specific reason. They were religious, wanted their kid to hold the same religious/esoteric views and thought their kid was their property. Most (older) kids were very happy they could visit an actual school.

>If you have the resources (time, money, teachers etc.) to get your children the same education they would get in a (german) public school you might as well found a private one.

Unless Germany's public school education somehow doesn't show its results on tests like PISA then this shouldn't be too difficult to provide to one or two kids. More than that would make it way harder. And I'm sure that if you did try to found a private school you'd have to deal with a mile long list of inane regulations as seems standard in all aspects of Germany.

Just an example of the absurd regulations in a different subject: Germany requires a license to stream to more than 500 people and they've actually enforced this on streamers. The license can cost €10k.

> Just an example of the absurd regulations in a different subject: Germany requires a license to stream to more than 500 people and they've actually enforced this on streamers. The license can cost €10k.

This information is outdated and misleading. Since 2020, licenses for public broadcast are only required for broadcasts which, averaged over six months, exceed 20000 viewers and have significant importance for the formation of public and private opinion [1].

Prior to this change, some streamers had indeed been forced to acquire such a license (although there were more conditions than just regularly having 500 viewers). Also, licenses for streamers actually cost around 1000-2500 €, instead of the 10000 € you claimed. In addition, there was an exception for cases where this would be an undue hardship [2]. The regulator basically agreed that this was pretty silly, but that it planned to enforce the law as written (as is its job), until it was changed (which it has been).

[1] (german) § 54 MStV, https://www.gesetze-bayern.de/Content/Document/MStV-54

[2] (german) https://t3n.de/news/livestreams-rundfunklizenz-1175321/

Maybe it's different in the USA, but I feel like public school was a complete waste of my time.. I'd read through the entirety of all the textbooks in the first couple of weeks of the school year and learn everything a kid my age was expected to know. Then I'd sit in class for 5 hours a day for 9 months, reading pulp sci-fi, shuffling a deck of cards, or just moping with my head on my arms. I came out of it with such a bad work ethic that I almost flunked out of college in the first quarter

My cousin is home-schooling her daughters, and they're all years ahead of kids their same age while only needing to study ~9 hours a week. They have two full weekdays devoted to social activities with other homeschooled kids. It looks really amazing IMO

Where I grew up in a liberal big city, the only home-schooled kids I met were super well-educated children of professionals, and were way ahead of both public and private school kids. I was a lot like you - always finished my homework before class was over, read all the materials and was bored in school most of the time. I was jealous of the home-schooled kids. My parents would say, "well but it's good to be around people your own age," but the home-schooled kids had plenty of friends. That gave me the idea that homeschooling was a better way.

That was before I met home-schooled kids from the rest of the country, where it had nothing to do with giving them a better education; it had a lot to do with limiting their education, and forcing them into a fundamentalist Christian or Mormon ideology. Those kids really didn't get out to socialize much, and they didn't get a good education, either.

I think parents have a right to homeschool their kids, and a government ban on that scares me. But I also think the parents need to meet or exceed the qualifications of the teachers who would otherwise be teaching, and [edit][strikethrough]the government[/strikethrough] *society* has some interest in preventing someone from having 48 children and forming a cult.

So like a lot of other stuff extremist wackos do, "this is why we can't have nice things." The goal is to walk a fine line in the center where government can stop crazy people from using freedoms to do crazy things, while still allowing sane people to have the rights and privileges they need as free individuals within the framework of society.

That's a good point, the government has to decide where to draw the line between parents' freedom to educate their kids and kids' freedom to have access to an actual first world education

I think having to pass standardized tests as homeschooled kids makes sense

People who value diversity of thought should support edge cases where everyone doesn’t learn the exact same pedagogy.

Thats what the "freie Trägerschaft" schools are for, public schools can also have supplementary courses. (the latter isn't very common though)

I went to a school that practiced "Montessori pedagogy" and I wish I could have visited a "normal" school in hindsight.

Why would you have preferred that over Montessori?

I'm always surprised how people in the US immediately lose their shit at the sight of a child locked in a car. Like yes it is dangerous but it does not automatically make the parent the most horrible person to ever exist.


The idea of an unsupervised child being being cooked in a car as hot as an oven is unsettling to most. Doesn't take long for a child to succumb to the heat.

Only couple of months ago in my area a mum had left a 3 year old and baby in the car, walked into her house and fell asleep for an hour. She woke up, realised what happened, ran to the car and the kids were dead. Another more recent incident occurred where a child was left in a day care bus unknowingly by the driver. He did not inspect the seats prior to locking up the bus outside in the sun. The child was found dead when he got back in the bus that afternoon.

People gather even if the car is on and the AC is clearly on full blast and the blinkers are on clearly indicating that the adult has just left in the last few minutes.

My wife was screamed at by someone who thought there was zero risk involved in bringing the little ones through an incredibly busy parking lot where everyone drives SUVs and oversized trucks. It’s as if they couldn’t imagine a situation where the parents have already done the risk analysis and determined it is far less safe walking a pack of kids through the jungle of death machines.

Why are you trying to convince us leaving kids unsupervised in car parks is no big deal? You walk with the child in hand or if you're really concerned just pick them up. Point is there is a responsible parent who is watching and looking after the kids. Parenting isn't easy, its annoying to take kids in for short trip to shops, but you just have to do it.

If there are multiple kids, it is clearly more risky to walk them through a busy parking lot.

Edit. For those interested in the risk analysis side:

“ On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Nearly every state has experienced at least one death since 1998. In both 2018 and 2019 a record number of 53 children died after being left in a hot vehicle.”


“ an average of 50 children per week are injured by being backed over in a parking lot or driveway. Despite the increasing prevalence of back-up cameras in vehicles, parking lots remain dangerous for families due to: Driver distraction (looking for a perfect spot or other in-vehicle distractions)”

Nothing to do with risk, everything to do with supervision. A person sees a child in a car alone, they don't create a risk assessment with instant access to available stats in their brain. They see a child alone and immediately think 'where are their parents?'. When you see those horror stories in the news a person's first thought is 'where are their parents?'. Regardless of the overall risk, people will always ask 'where are the parents?'. You've obviously experienced the negative consequences of these actions and are attempting to prove in whatever way that leaving the kids unsupervised is the best option, but that is generally not acceptable in the wider community.

> that is generally not acceptable in the wider community

That is the U.S.. Which is why I brought this point up. Different countries/cultures have different perspectives.

"Acceptable in the wider community" is a fairly poor standard to go on. Hitting your child with a belt was acceptable until recently (and still is, in many places).

It's only in the past 15 years that our histrionic society has decided that in all instances, without exception, that leaving your children unsupervised in a car is attempted murder.

My parents used to leave me in the car from time to time, they always made sure the window was cracked, the car was out of direct sunlight, and the sunshade was put on the windscreen. On the other hand, the thing that came closest to killing me (multiple times) was traffic.

That said, here in Australia, apparently parents leaving their kids in the car while they go to the pub to play pokies (slot machines) is enough of a problem that venues have signs reminding people not to leave children in cars. The pub round the corner from my place even has a kids playground, which I suspect was put in to stop parents leaving their kids in the car.

The hitting a child with a belt is a weird analogy. I don't think it's as acceptable as you think it was. Yes we all probably experienced it growing up, but how many times do you see a child given the belt in public? Did you ever see someone walk up to a parent with a crying child and ask 'why haven't you given them a flogging? You can use my belt if you want'. It's always done behind closed doors out view. An adult hitting child is always likely to spur negative emotions in people and opinions are likely to change.

That is completely different to kids in cars, there wont be a time where we will decide 'Hey maybe leaving them in the car is better.', it just wont happen.

Society views always change, that should be obvious to anyone. Events that shock people change the way we think about certain situations. Kids dying in cars as hot as oven's is one of them.

‘My parents used to do it’, is also a poor standard to work from.

Those incidents I mentioned occurred in Australia. ‘Well the incident rate is low’, that’s because almost all parents take their kids with them. If we all decided to start leaving kids in cars then the number of incidents would increase.

You live in a community, if you take actions generally frowned upon by the majority of people, like it or not you will possibly receive some negative consequences, especially if it involves children. Likewise a business like a pub would be trying to avoid an incident with a child left in a car while their parents played their addictive pokies. No business wants to deal with those negative consequences.

“ You live in a community, if you take actions generally frowned upon by the majority of people, like it or not you will possibly receive some negative consequences, especially if it involves children. ”

This is the logic used by people who call the police on children walking to the park without an adult. These are commonly people who watch a lot of news (and are therefore more misinformed according to multiple studies) and who would fail basic knowledge tests on actual risks of various activities.

Stop pretending you're more 'informed' then others or an expert on risk management. You think leaving multiple kids in a car with the engine on is effective risk management. Now you're trying to convince us it's weird that someone would ring the police if they saw a child wandering the streets without a parent. So they are too young to manage a carpark and its best they stay locked in a car, but letting them wonder off to the park on their own across how many roads is fine. People who would be concerned are generally stupid and watch too much news.

This is all one big joke. I think I'm about finished arguing the absurd.

Until 10 to 15 years ago, all of that was completely normal, and kids did not die en masse. Consider why you think the world is drastically more dangerous than it used to be. Is it based on fact, or is it based on living in a culture of fear?

It was never normal to let say a 3 year old walk unsupervised to a park which may have roads and vehicles on the way. You have simply been misled into the idea of that safety is synonymous with fear.

Sorry if it seemed like arguing, just trying to frame my reasoning:) peace!

I like a good internet 'debate', why I don't know. If It comes across as aggressive I apologise, It's more arguing the point then the person. 'Nothing personal' as they say.

Well first risk analysis doesn't work like that. Second leaving ur kids unsupervised in a car is illegal in most states here. Hell in most states it's legal for me to break your car window if you do that to a freaking dog. so yea ur so wrong I'm pretty sure you're trolling us.

It’s clearly safer to leave a group of kids in the car with the air conditioning running while they are on their iPads for seven minutes then it is to bring them all through parking lots, regardless of how the media has distorted the risk of this situation ( Extreme cases are usually the result of drug addiction).

Totally not trolling, just pushing back against media misinformation.

No it’s not ‘safer’. You’re ‘stats’ don’t consider the fact that nearly all parents take their kids with them after parking the car. If parents on masse decided to leave their kids in the car then the number of incidents would greatly increase.

The risk is spontaneous engine failure to stop the AC is lower than the risk of children running in different directions among moving vehicles.

In what world would it be acceptable to leave multiple kids unattended with the car engine on?

Who lets their children run around in different direction around moving vehicles? Thats the whole point of having a parent present. Thats your responsibility... you go on about risk, but ignore the fact you should go another time or another shop if its too busy for you to manage multiple kids, find a car park closer to the entrance or find some help. Thats mitigating risk. Locking kids in cars with engines running is the exact opposite of risk mitigation.

I don't claim that any of this is easy, quite the opposite. But it was 'too hard' is not going to cut it.

You've completely distorted the statistics to justify, I assume your wife's actions. Imagine the scenario where instead of all parents taking their child with them into the shops, they all left their kids in the car with engine running. What do you think would happen to your statistics?

Why are you trying to convince yourself that a child is going to die or be kidnapped if left alone for ten minutes in a locked, cooled car?

Man, the article was maybe 10% of the source code of that page.. what a bloated nightmare

[{"@type":"WebPageElement","isAccessibleForFree":"False","cssSelector":".content-container"}],"articleBody":"It happened on a mild day in March, in the quiet suburb in Virginia where I grew up....

In the US, legal adults between the ages of 18 and 21 can decide to join the Army, travel to exotic lands and die there. The same adults are not trusted to make the decision of buying and drinking beer.

They're trusted to join the Army which includes fairly strict supervision from the chain of command. This is more akin to drinking with your parents than going off by yourself.

Drinking an unsupervised beer still seems less dangerous than taking a supervised bullet.

Not really.

"We are going to trust you to go into war - a stressful situation - and know who to kill and who not to kill, if need be... but no, we definitely won't let you sit at home and drink a beer, even if it is with your parents. That is criminal"

It is pretending to treat someone like a mature adult, with all of the responsibilities, but refusing to allow beer and bars, which are common recreational and social habits in the culture.

Voting and drinking ages used to both be 21. Notably, around 1969-1971 during the height of the Vietnam draft, 30 states lowered their drinking and voting ages to 18. Most of these went back to a drinking age of 21 by the early 1980s, but voting remained at 18. It was directly due to pressure from the anti-war movement.

I feel like this is very different in kind.

Are there any other countries that enforce a daily time limit on an activity, whether for children or adults?

It seems either an activity (like smoking) is typically banned entirely or allowed; having it be partially allowed like this is difficult to enforce and consequently invites weird and invasive measures like these.

Yes, there are. Examples that immediately come to mind:

- Anyone driving a large vehicle for more than 9 hours per day, 56 in a week, and 90 over a two-week period in the European Union.

- Adults using a tanning under a sunlamp for more than one cycle in a 24 hour period in many countries (others, such as Australia, did ban them entirely).

- Children spending more than 10 hours per day in child care centers in many US states, such as Washington.

- Alcohol purchases are limited to certain times of day in many European countries (compare "No games between 10pm and 8am" in China).

Many of these are very difficult to enforce, and enforcement benefits from intrusive technology (such as tachographs) and even more so from intrusive AI (e.g. many EU countries were set to implement platforms to monitor truck drivers using AI, until the European Commission's Artificial Intelligence Act forced a change of plans).

I also disagree with the previous examples being as different in kind as you seem to think: e.g. the "no home-schooling" requirements, combined with mandatory attendance, still limits children's gaming time to something less than 19 hours on weekdays. Which is different from "no more than 1.5 hours", but only quantitatively, not qualitatively. And it certainly matches "the government does not trust its citizens to raise their own children", which was my main point.

All of your examples limit or prescribe hours of work. This implies that the remaining time is free. There is a fundamental difference between telling a minor what they have to do some hours of the day - e.g. go to school - and telling them how they must apportion the entire rest of their time when they've finished their work. "Free time" loses meaning if it's all surveilled and controlled. Truckers don't have to be watched when they're not driving. Adults, too, have all their time free when not working, to waste or use productively as they please. To say you're limited to the remaining 19 hours of the day just means you have 19 hours of free time. It's no longer free time if the government begins to restrict it for reasons that are outside its remit.

> All of your examples limit or prescribe hours of work.

Well, I guess you should give those examples another read. Unless you consider using a tanning bed to be work. Not to mention "buying alcohol at night".

Australia also has limits on heavy vehicle driving hours, and cameras on the main highways to enforce them.

Plus they have those ridiculous billboards every 10km that say "are you sleepy yet?" Australia's social nudging really freaks me out.

You're allowed have sex. You're allowed to give someone money. But you're not give someone sex for money.

What China has done is take an arbitrary, ridiculous rule like that, and make it even more absurd. Imagine if they said that after 30 minutes, a massage is by definition sex. And if you do it more than 90 minutes a week, it's sex addiction.

It's just arbitrary ways of controlling the populace. I doubt if they care whether kids play games. It's just a way to start facial recognition for the social credit system early.

You're not taking purpose or context into consideration.

It is legal to smoke. It is legal to go into a restaurant. However, it is not legal to go into a restaurant and smoke.

That's neither arbitrary nor ridiculous, it actually makes a lot of sense.

I will agree with you that often if not always, rules come with a background shady agenda behind them, such as this one being about mass surveillance.

But it is critically important to understand the purpose of things before disregarding them.

>. All governments and societies make all kinds of "tyrannical" rules about raising children, in the name of limiting harm to children

No, they objectively don't, wtf. Stop normalizing this kind of behavior

One would hope for a better supported rebuttal given that the gp went through the trouble of giving a few examples.

Or is that more of a firmly and deeply held personal belief more akin to blind faith or hopeful candor than an actual opinion supported by facts?

From the guidelines:

> Please don't post shallow dismissals, especially of other people's work. A good critical comment teaches us something.

> Please don't use Hacker News for political or ideological battle. It tramples curiosity.

Feel free to name at least one government or society which has no such rules.

All societies have them, and many such rules are widely accepted by the societies that have them as beneficial. E.g. such laws are the reason parents are not allowed to expose their children to obscene images, even if the parents really are convinced that doing so would benefit their children.

The Dutch government?

Also, how is "not allowing homeschooling" tyrannical? Corona especially has shown us that the quality of education received at a school is much higher than at home. Every child deserves to not be held back by their parents in this way.

There are many, many cases in which home-school can lead to a better education quality than a public school.

It's not the same to have the parents purposefully owning and caring and dedicating to the education of the children and on the other side, an unexpected circumstance that causes your children to suddenly stay at home and try to follow an education program in which no one is prepared for such scenario.

Homeschool as a way of life is not comparable to what happened during/because of the pandemic.

"Not allowing homeschooling" in an absolute way is completely tyrannical.

> Corona especially has shown us that the quality of education received at a school is much higher than at home.

Among a population of parents who have a revealed preference not to home-school, sure. But it says nothing about outcomes among a population of parents who actually want to home-school their kids.

In the Corona case education was still the schools' responsibility, they (and the parents really) just were suddenly thrust into it with little prep or time to rearrange things.

This is very different to homeschooling.

Particularly with parents making a conscious decision to homeschool and properly planning how they're going to find the time.

Are you Dutch?!

Because we, the Dutch, haven't been really progressive for like at least two decades.

There's limits on the age you're allowed to buy alcohol in The Netherlands just like in other countries.

> Corona especially has shown us that the quality of education received at a school is much higher than at home.

This definitely depends on whether those are the only two choices. If homeschooling includes the parents having the choice to send their kids to private academies of their choosing instead, then it's possible that homeschooling can be superior.

I don't know what it's like in the Netherlands, but in South Korea, with the very strong private academy culture, the public school system is actual comparatively subpar. Public schools are more useful for subjects like civics and history than more academic subjects like math and science.

On the contrary, the last couple of years (including corona) have shown how much misinformation governments and schools are willing to spread. I worry a lot about the best ways to shield my children from that.

> last couple of years (including corona) have shown how much misinformation governments and schools are willing to spread.

I'm genuinely curious-- What specifially are you talking about?

I'm having a really hard time coming up with harmful misinformation that is perpetuated intentionally by the education system (or government) in any western country...

At the beginning of the pandemic in the UK, the government was perpetuating misinformation about masks, recommending that people not wear them, even as East Asian countries had made them mandatory.[1][2][3][4] The same misinformation was also spread by US authorities, hoping this would alleviate the mask shortage for healthcare workers.[5][6] Some even admitted this later.[7]

1. "Coronavirus: 'We do not recommend face masks for general wearing'". https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-52153145

2. "Timeline: The UK's arguments against face masks for all". https://newseu.cgtn.com/news/2020-06-06/Timeline-The-UK-s-ar...

3. "Coronavirus: Chief medical officer tells public not to wear masks". https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/coronavirus-...

4. "Why is the Government so adamant that face masks don't work?". https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/15/government-adama...

5. "Why Telling People They Don't Need Masks Backfired". https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/opinion/coronavirus-face-...

6. "The Face Mask Debate Reveals a Scientific Double Standard". https://www.wired.com/story/the-face-mask-debate-reveals-a-s...

7. "Fauci Confirms Public-Health Experts Downplayed Efficacy of Masks to Ensure They Would Be Available to Health-care Workers". https://news.yahoo.com/fauci-confirms-public-health-experts-...

Gender studies, critical race theory, climate change, environmental pollution, economics/socialism, corona, Trump...

With Trump (or maybe just the rise of social media in general) cancel culture has become rampant. The general discussion culture has become angrier and unforgiving. People feel they are fighting a war and the enemy has to be shut down at all cost.

With Corona and climate many people feel like literally their lives are at risk. With Corona, censorship of dissenting opinions has become the norm.

I don't want my kids to be taught that boys are bad by nature and have to be taught to be like girls, and girls are only good if they behave like boys.

I don't want my kids to be taught that they are inherently sexist or something-phobic if they are not gay or Trans, or merely approach somebody they are attracted to.

I don't want them to be taught that they are inherently racist and bad because they are white.

I don't want them to be taught that they are doomed because global warming will end the world in a couple of years.

I don't want them to be taught that capitalism exploits people and socialism is the only recourse.

I don't want them to be taught that they should listen to "experts" and believe the scientists. They should be taught critical thinking and doing science.

Perhaps an example of a rule or law a European country has, but China doesn't.

I think one example is the age of consent, which is 14 in China, lower than most of Europe and the USA. It's a good alternative to video games...

taken together it sounds like a last-ditch effort to up their birth rate!

Objectively isn't a way to make your statement more powerful. Cite sources instead. Objective sources.

It's not to wrong tho. In many western countries you can not take your children of school. Or even have no real choice which school they may visit (if you can't pay for a private one that is) if you do not agree with your local schooling system that appears tyrannic in a way.

I am sure I can't find other examples. Not saying what china does is right, but we obviously haven't mastered raising children either.

> The same adults are not trusted to make the decision of buying and drinking beer.

My understanding is that studies showed that drinking before a certain age (on average of course) has a high chance of causing physiological brain deterioration, but I haven’t done any recent research to see if this was still a thing. The age requirement is the government not trusting their citizens not to damage themselves.

> The age requirement is the government not trusting their citizens not to damage themselves.

The incoherence is still there.

Not trusted not to damage themselves with alcool, but trusted to be given weapons and sent to the far side of the world where quite a few people would love to get their heads or, barring that, at least kill them?

From the little research I’ve done, soldiers have greater chances of dying violently, being maimed, of remaining traumatised years after their service, and of killing themselves once back home (apparently more kill themselves after than are killed in action by enemy bullets [1]).

How is letting them enlist not letting them damage themselves?

It isn’t, because the average age of the enlisted soldier is less than 21. So if they actually went all the way and bothered being aligned with themselves and their supposed values, they’d bar anyone less than 21 from joining the army and lose many, many, of what are probably the most easy to recruit recruits.

It’s just hypocrisy dressed up in fine rags.

[1]: https://thehill.com/changing-america/well-being/mental-healt...

No, it's not hypocrisy but a tradeoff.

What does society lose if enlisting before 21 is banned? Most of its recruits. The military would be in ruins, the strength of the country on the battlefield in jeopardy.

What does society lose if drinking before 21 is banned? Some revenue for brewing companies and associated tax income, which are easily compensated by having saved significant amounts of brain cells in young adults to have an impact on the economy for generations.

Everything government is a tradeoff. And in politics. And in life.

I certainly know most things are arbitrations between needs and preferences.

However, pretending that preserving these precious young people even against themselves is of the utmost importance while still making such tradeoffs is hypocrisy.

There’s no shame in making such a choice, and wether or not it is a wrong one is a whole other matter.

The hypocrisy lies in pretending it isn’t what it is.

Also, other countries have an average age of 28 for their soldiers. And given that apparently the brain’s functions, and particularly the prefrontal cortex, aren’t all finished until 25[1], it seems like a sensible thing to wait a few years before relying on their judgement on how to apply the use of lethal force in more than stressful environments.

But then again, if one were to be cynical, one could say it makes them all the more easier to recruit.

[1]: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?Con...

So does American football, which kids in America are expected to learn: https://www.google.com/amp/s/qz.com/1038120/over-99-of-nfl-p...

Let's not assume the drinking age is anything to do with evidence.

What government, at any level, in America has a rule mandating that children learn American tackle football?

Expected socially, not mandated. You're not mandated to drink alcohol either.

It's also a top public spending priority: https://www.athleticbusiness.com/college/the-highest-paid-pu...

Hmm, I went through the American educational system from elementary through grad school, and I never felt any social expectation to learn football, either the rules or how to actual play. Maybe it's a costal city versus middle America thing? (I grew up in NY and went to California for post secondary education)

It most definitely is. Football was pretty much a religion in Ohio.

The parent's point was that taking a bullet in the head also has a high chance of physiological brain deterioration.

If that's the case, then where is the crackdown on rampant underage drinking?

My college gives a presentation to freshman that essentially says "we know you're going to drink, so please drink responsibly and take care of yourself." And I personally think this is much better than telling kids to not drink underage.

It reminds me of parents who teach their kids abstinence and then are shocked to find them pregnant.

Maybe but as the comment pointed out they’re still allowed to go to war, causing all kinds of permanent mental health issues, injuries and death.

If that's true, then the UK is doomed.

I never understand to what end.

Is it simply power? What is the point of it?

You cannot crime or human behavior to misbehave.

I wonder how long it will be until China's citizens start to crack under the pressure.

It is cultural.

In Confucianism, the relationship between a father and a son, a superior and their subordinate, a state and its citizen are considered equal. Therefore it is considered normal for the state to be paternalistic. Also, collective responsibility takes precedence over individual freedom. Each person is supposed to conform to its role in society. Children’s role is to study, rather than play video games all night.

Together, you get a video game ban, enforced by the full power of the state.

Until a few years ago, video game consoles are banned in China for the exact same reason.

What do they do to people that can’t conform?

About ten to fifteen years ago, “Internet addiction” was perceived to be a big problem among the youth in China. Kids would skip school and play video games in Internet cafes.

Someone opened an “Internet addiction treatment center”. Parents would pay to send their kids there, where they are deprived of their freedom, be indoctrinated about their “sins”, and even subject to electric shock. [1]

The state official television network, CCTV, aired a documentary endorsing the practice.

I am not making this up.

Obviously nobody cares about this anymore because literally everyone is an Internet addict.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yang_Yongxin#Internet_addictio...

Can you expand on what you mean by "everyone is an internet addict"? I mean in the examples you gave, you mention the children skipped school - which is a problem. The article and some other commenters mention a nighttime gaming ban - which is a reaction to kids staying up at night to play video games. Clearly there IS a problem, and the Chinese government has this way of solving it.

In the west there's similar solutions. For game time, parents can use parental controls, time limits and bedtimes to set up phones and the like to not work at night. The government(s) are more concerned about gambling mechanics in games.

It's a problem of phrasing.

Back then, for an average person, there wasn't much to do on the Internet, except online games and chatting with friends, both of which are considered a waste of time. As a result, Internet itself was demonized, and Internet addiction was considered a problem, even a mental disorder.

Nowadays, China has a booming tech sector. Everyone is using the Internet all the time to browse TikTok videos, stream TV shows, order food delivery and shop deals. And people stopped talking about Internet addiction, because suddenly they realize they themselves fit the clinical definition, which was to be online for more than a few hours a day.

Well, it's a problem of phrasing, but the other issue is the CCP wants any reason to put facial recognition in people's homes. Since taking a sledgehammer to a social issue like children's screen-time will cause no appreciable backlash among anyone who can't be sent to a slave camp, they can kill two birds with one stone by harnessing gaming addiction to a total panopticon. You can already go to prison there for using your phone to access Playboy magazine or the NYT, so, why not. It's their casino, and if you don't like it, see how you like your kneecaps.

There isn't much a kid can do to not conform.

Beating up by your parents are pretty common in China, and nobody gives a flying f--k about what you do with you kids. People would praise you for deploying violence, because that shows you are a strict parent, and the level of willingness you would spend on 'rectifying' the behavior of your kids.

And the parents would always tell the kids the violence right now is good for them, with a kind of twisted logic that early age suffering would be made up with later success in your life.

So to many Chinese family, in China or in west, the kids are not treated as individuals, they are a form of property/investment of the whole family. The parents are willing to invest a ton of money in the kids' education, in exchange to greater control/say in shaping up the kids' future.

It is a different social contract all together, I don't personally like it, but I am thankful for my parents for paying up all my tuition all the way until graduate degree, then that is super expensive for them, so there is trade-off.

In all societies, people don't care what you do with your kids if you beat them up. But they care a lot what you do with your kids, if you teach your kids to question authority. When I grew up we were taught that police were basically stupid, pathetic authoritarians with no power, who needed to hold weapons to prove they had little dicks. We were taught that anyone who claimed to know something about "God" was a fraud. And we were taught never to say these things in public, because the government would put us in a foster home and Dad and Mom would get arrested.

[edit] We were also taught that marijuana and other drugs help you relax and be creative, that sex within a loving relationship is a good thing, that there's nothing wrong with pornography, that prostitution is an important outlet for sexually repressed men who would otherwise become violent, and that guns are for idiots who can't talk their way out of problems. All of these are still very dangerous views in most of the world.


I think the GP comment meant, like, low-functioning autistic people. Not people who won’t conform; people who cannot. People who do not have the mental capacity to grasp and conform to social norms.

I don’t think China is sending such people to re-education camps. Those camps don’t have the infrastructure required to care for such people. They only really “work” as an oubliette for able-bodied/able-minded people that will understand and carry out orders when threatened with force.

(I’d believe you if you instead said they were e.g. having nursing staff at Chinese hospitals do secret state-sanctioned eugenic infanticides, to avoid having such people around in the first place. But allowing parents to invest a lot of resources into raising unable-to-conform children, just to then inevitably send those children [likely permanently] to re-education camps, seems wasteful.)

It would take me some time to dive into the prevalence of abusive “therapies” or what every day life is for autistic people in China. I did find this report about a rehabilitation center that forces autistic children to walk 19km (12 miles) per day as part of their treatment. It gained notoriety after a 3-year old died while in the center.


That does sound more like it. My point was that this type of pseudo-“rehabilitation” can’t really be conflated with pseudo-“re-education.” No matter how abusive these rehabilitation centres are, they still have staff and facilities that the POW-camp-like environment of a re-education facility doesn’t (and probably cost a lot more to run.)

Similar to the difference between state prisons and state mental asylums in America in the 1960s.

Because people who can't conform are a lot less dangerous than people who won't.

If a person is disabled (physically or mentally), they will be mostly confined by the family to their home for their own good and not participate in the wider society.

Do you think a totalitarian state makes that distinction? They are not known for their sensitivity. I would imagine they are simply dispensed with.

I wish I didn’t look this up.

Could you share what you wish you hadn't found?

The treatment of the Uyghur people was the first thing that popped up on google when I search “re-education China”

Considering what Muslims constantly do here in Europe, I applaud China for taking measures before things spiral out of control.

Hope EU will finally get their heads together and act as well before it's too late.

You need to check yourself. Being part Syrian, I have a lot of Muslim family and I find great offense to your support of genocide. A small number of Muslims are radical, no different than the radical Christians here in the US. Are all Christians deserving of being round up, put in camps, and all free will taken away?

> Until a few years ago, video game consoles are banned in China for the exact same reason

First time I realized I was playing my PSP, gameBoy and PlayStation2/3 games illegally

>Is it simply power? What is the point of it?

You can read my post history; I'm anything but a Chinese Nationalist and Xi lover. Still, I don't think this law is crazy.

It clearly serves a purpose of protecting children from harm. The enforcement is creepy, but as a law I don't see it as any different to the laws about parents supplying alcohol to minors in Australia.

I don't know, I don't think putting cameras in minors' rooms is going to keep them safe. That just screams exploitation to me. Either Tencent is hacked, Tencent accidentally gathers those images, or someone hacks the cameras because now you have millions of people that leave their cameras facing them at all times. None of those are a great situation and the likelihood of each of those happening isn't low.

This is without even getting into a discussion about government monitoring citizens through cameras in their homes. That is quite literally the premise of 1984. Well I should take that back, the premise was the gov could watch you at any time, not that they actively are.

>I don't think putting cameras in minors' rooms is going to keep them safe

I wasn't referring to the cameras (" The enforcement is creepy"...), but it does make sense why a government would want to pass laws limiting gaming/screen use late at night amongst teenagers.

I went through it as a teenager and the lack of sleep causes all kinds of mental health and behavioural issues.

The people living there want this. People in the Soviet Union believed in a lot of ineffective things too. If opposing viewpoints were better accepted there would be no restrictions. People aren’t stupid, the system just ill informs them.

I disagree: people are very dumb. Not merely ignorant or misled, but actually stupid. No one nationality, ethnic group, or other arbitrary grouping is smarter than any other; they're all equally stupid.

Kids addicted to gaming -> bad family relations & bad grades -> decreased productivity & unemployment -> social unrest -> people revolt against the communist party.

I'd argue the fact that CCP solves problems at the source is exactly the reason China didn't crack when people thought it would.

> bad family relations & bad grades -> decreased productivity & unemployment

That particular link is not causitive, but correlative. Very little of education causes productivity.

My impression is that they're trying to solve problems with real or perceived problem of video game addictions.

>Obviously, it's disgusting for the gov't to do anything along these lines with facial recognition of minors who should be even more protected from surveillance than the adult public.

System is linked and processed by data from public security, i.e. government which has more right to bio data than aggressive harvesting by public companies, which PRC is actively cracking down on. In terms of data policies, that's about as reasonable as can be expected and more protection most in the west is expected to receive.

This isn't even a blanket game ban, no different than gov setting up ratings board in response to public opinion (Chinese parents) to block kids from watching certain movies. There's a decades worth of non-always online, DRM free games, emulators etc for kids to waste time and develop skills on. No different than growing up 10 years ago before always-online games became the norm, maybe even preferrable since it cuts down on exposure now endemically popular gambling gaming mechanics and micro transactions (which the legislation also limits).

> But I'm interested what kind of unanticipated side effects it might have as far as kids learning to roll-their-own entertainment.

You mean like they've been doing for millennia? Probably no unanticipated side effects.

I don't think your family experience somehow can represent everyone in this world. There are parents working shifts may not have time to manage their kids as your parents did. The view you have on this world is so distorted, why many people don't choose to eat healthy when they "can" all to eat organic home cooked food.

It is like you don't sell cigarettes to kids. Sure you can say the governments don't trust their parents on how to teach their kids. Gaming is a health issue the same as everything else.

My parents worked. They didn't monitor us 24/7. They just didn't buy us games. They'd check that our homework was done. And they would ground us if we were caught doing something we weren't supposed to (like watching TV on a school night). My dad used to come home and put his hand on the TV to make sure it wasn't hot. Key point: You can teach good behavior without having to monitor 24/7. You can also eat healthy for less than the cost of eating fast food.

The backdrop to this is how unbelievably predatory f2p East Asian games are when it comes to slot machine mechanics and whale hunting. Most adults in Japan, I read, think of video games as if they are the same as casino games. It wasn’t until 10 years ago that the west really got on that bandwagon, but now I think we’re leaders in this. Eg, blizzard switching f2p games with loot boxes so heavily, and aiming to make a new Diablo as a mobile game

From what I've read, we're still very much beginners when it comes to this in the west.

Nintendo is Japanese, and I don't think they heavily rely on such mechanics. They may have such aspects in their games for mobile phones, though.

Sadly their phone games imitate the worst things their competitors in both Japan and China are doing in terms of gambling, predatory pricing, etc. The revenue's certainly good.

True, as I said, nevertheless they seem to have a huge tradition and catalogue of non-predatory games.

There's a well-known open secret that every kid in South Korea have perfectly memorized either their mom or dad's citizen ID (the full 13 digits). There's also a statistic that the distribution of age in kid's popular online games is centered around the 40s/50s... you get the idea. Children usually borrow IDs/phones from your parents or other adult acquaintances (whether it be with or without permission.)

Though PC-bangs (Internet cafes) are where you can't get away with this restriction - usually they check your IDs and kick all minors out when it becomes 10pm. What really sucks for kids in South Korea is that cram schools (hagwons) also end at 10pm (another national restriction) - which means that after a stressful day in hagwon they have no time to actually play without circumventing the rules...

> South Korea has similar types of restrictions, by the way. No gaming for minors (under 16) between midnight and 6am.

I'm disappointed but not surprised that China makes rules like this, but I always thought South Korea was basically a free country and never expected this sort of rule from them.

So, generally, I really dislike this kind of paternalism. This rule in particular doesn't seem that crazy, but enforcement just seems completely unrealistic without major privacy violations.

Maybe that's why I dislike this kind of paternalism.

South Korea was ruled by military rule until the mid 90s. Now instead of military leaders it's ruled by the chaebols, the large industrial conglomerates.

Don't forget the literal cult a few years ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_South_Korean_political_sc...

It's been long since I talked to a SK guy, but around 2010 it was pretty obvious that SK was half western half eastern, and much more free than china (no SK person ever expressed anxiety or fear of speaking on internet, chinese people did so very rapidly)

that said .. i'm surprised about their laws, especially since SK a bit land-of-gaming

As a South Korean, I can confidently say that nobody actually gives a shit about these rules, there are too many ways to circumvent around it, and as a result people don't think they're that "oppressed" from it. (Read my parent comment about getting around gaming restrictions)

That's a problem though. Rules that don't get enforced (or can't be) can then be abused to target anyone those in power don't like. Their very existence itself is an affront to freedom.

My impression of South Korea (as someone living in Japan and sometimes talking to people who have moved back and forth) is that it's closer to Singapore on the free/authoritarian scale.

E.g. for many years they had a law where to sign up for any large chat forum (like a Korean Hacker News) you'd have to enter your government ID numbers so they could effectively ban you for harassment/slander etc.

Porn is also illegal in South Korea.

Like young people in America aged 16-21 who cannot buy alcohol legally in the US? That seems pretty totalitarian and paternalistic from outside the US

In a car centric environment such as the US, there is a large burden society pays for when it comes to under age drunk driving. The harm from a car related fatality is felt immediately. It’s hard to compare that to the delayed and difficult to measure societal impact when kids play too much video games.

It's delayed, and difficult to measure precisely, but there's a substantial cohort of people who cannot and may never be able to support themselves due to the combination of gaming all night and cultural expectations around hiring.

Perhaps it would be free-er for the government to intervene and force everyone to have a different cultural expectation, but both are very substantial interferences.

Data? There have been really flawed studies to bash video game playing (just like there was for playing chess...look it up), but I've yet to see any that withstand scrutiny.

Definitely going to need you to back this one up, I’m highly skeptical of your claim.

> government to intervene and force everyone

Going to go ahead and recommend against those words in that order.

Would make more sense to also not be able to drive until 18/21


Most places restrict the age at which you can buy alcohol and most places seem to restrict it to at least 18. 21 is higher than the average but legal age laws seem to be pretty standard.

And as mentioned in the article the restriction to gaming is being implemented not only in China but in SK and Vietnam, what it is normal and what is totalitarian seems only to reside on who implements it. Usual tribalism dressed-up in sophisms.

Also limits monthly microtransactions from $28 to $57 depending on age. Knowing Chinese chicken (helicopter) parents, these restrictions are overwhelmingly government listening to public opinion. Sucks for the kids, but really only affects always online products from domestic services. Infinite amount of offline DRM free options to still waste time on, much less gacha/gambly than what's being pushed these days. Kids grew up on gameboys and emulators fine - I know folks with strict parents that that gamed exclusively on a TI83. This is far from an effective ban on video games.

Man that fucking sucks. I spent far more time than that playing CS1.6 as a kid, I turned out fine.

I would be absolutely livid if my government tried to tell me how much time I could spend doing what I wanted, and remember distinctly being conscious of making those decisions for myself from at least 12+ (lying a lot because of the amount of services that made me say I was over 13).

On the upside, kids are going to start playing CS 1.6 since it doesn't have this DRM instead of slot machine simulators.

As a kid my school's DRM prevented more modern, online games so we played a cracked version to CS 1.6 over the local network, it was loads of fun.

As Chinese, my first console is bought when I got my job.

So it is true, Chinese parents, or Confucian inspired ones, see gaming as something more sinister than drugs.

As usual good advice but shouldn't be law.

> I think Vietnam may have something similar as well

Vietnam may have these laws (I don't know), but they are not enforced in any way nor are there software steps to enforce it (ask for SSN, ask for proof of age)

It's a shame that China is so authoritarian, but at least they're controlling people positively in this aspect.

Ok. Sounds like an unfair advantage for Western kids who want to be pro gamers to me then. More time to play, more time to train. ;)

Not that I don't believe you, but Chinese teams compete at the highest levels of competitive gaming. There has to be some loopholes.

Same goes for South Korea. Actually, China and South Korea are the two most dominant regions for many games.

China's restrictions are pretty new (implemented in 2019) so their long-term impact is yet to be seen.

And Korea's law is much less restrictive since kids can play as much as they like before midnight.

Are there minors on the top-level Chinese teams?

The average age is around 20 and I doubt they are training to the most competitive levels in just a year or two.

> China's most famous e-sports player, Jian Zihao, has officially retired from gaming aged 23, citing ill-health.

> He had been a professional gamer since 2012, playing League of Legends under the name of "Uzi".


He would have been ~15 in 2012.

People who have played way less when they were minors would be at a big disadvantage compared to the rest of the world.

I don’t think China is particularly competitive in e-sports relative to places like S. Korea or the US. At least for the few I watched (mostly overwatch, counter strike) China always struggled at the bottom of the list.

China is very competitive in the moba genre, like League of Legends and DOTA2.

In the League scene the US (technically NA) region is at the bottom of the tier list.

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