The stock prices of China’s biggest online gaming firms slipped after a state media outlet called them “electronic drugs”.
Tencent and NetEase shares fell more than 10% over the past two days. Investors are increasingly concerned about Beijing cracking down on firms.
The state media’s Economic Information Daily said many teenagers had become addicted to online gaming and it was having a negative impact on them. The news outlet is affiliated with the official Xinhua news agency.
The article cited Tencent’s hugely popular game Honor of Kings, saying students were playing it for up to eight hours a day, and asked for more curbs on the industry.
“No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation,” it said before going on to liken online games to “spiritual opium”.
Tencent has said it would introduce measures to reduce children’s access to and time spent on its Honor of Kings game. The company also said it plans to eventually roll out the policy to all of its games.`
The stock prices recovered slightly after Economic Information Daily deleted the article from its account on the Wechat social media platform.
Tencent stocks in the Hong Kong exchange have slipped over 40% since February this year.
In recent months authorities have announced a series of measures to tighten their grip on technology and private education companies.