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Youth Protection

Youth Protection – Several scholars, as well as the World Health Organization, have argued that youth may be particularly vulnerable to the negative impacts of online gaming and esports, given the links between addiction and gaming, as well as gaming and gambling.[1] Furthermore, exposure to toxic behaviour such as cyberbullying, abuse, racism, and discrimination have been mentioned.[2] Indeed, a recent study by Tuakli-Wosornu et al., came to the conclusion that “eSports training and competition venues are vulnerable to child protection violations.” [3]

In addition, health issues, such as burn-out associated with competitive video-gaming, both for playing of games and for streaming of games, have been reported. Holden et al. further raise concerns regarding the use of stimulants, next to numerous other medical conditions which according to clinical research studies have shown to correlate to screen and gaming abuse and overuse.[4]

Youth Protection measures

Countries’ laws and policies

Certain countries either have already, or are planning to put laws in place which aim to protect youth or more specifically minors.

For example, in 2021 China has issued a Notice on Further Strict Management to Effectively Prevent Minors from Being Addicted to Online Games. The Notice strictly limits the game time for minors, and requires that all the online game enterprises can only provide online game services to minors for 1 hour from 20:00 to 21:00 daily on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays and that all online game enterprises should strictly implement the requirement of real-name registration and login of online game user accounts, not providing game services in any form to users without real-name registration and login. As a result of the Notice, underage players have been prohibited from competing in esports, and tournament organisers – for example the KPL King Pro League – now require esports players to be 18 years old.[5]


Another example is Switzerland, where the Swiss Federal Council approved a Draft Law on Youth Protection for Film and Video Games in 2020. While not yet in force, the law however allows for exceptions with regard to esports. Minors may thus compete in esports with a valid approval from their parents, and under the condition that (i) they are at least 16 years old; (ii) they are accompanied by an adult who is at least ten years older than them; and (iii) the video game is not intended for adults only.[6]

Regulations of esports organizers

In response to youth protection, esports organizers have put age limitations in place. For example, ESL for its Pro Tour Dota2 requires players to be at least 16 years old, while Riot Games does consider players to be eligible to participate in LEC Matches only if they are 18 years old. Teams may, however, sign players who are 16 years or above as Free Agents.[7]


It has been argued that the current esports landscape with regard to governance and regulations is ill-equipped to ensure adequate protection of players and vulnerable audiences, many of which are minors.[8] Certain countries have put laws and policies in place which either restrict or prohibit underage players from competing in esports. In response to youth protection, esports organizers have put age limitations in place. However, those age limitations vary among organizers and games.

[1] World Health Organisation, ‘Addictive Behaviour’ <>.


[2] S J Kelly, S Derrington and S Star, ‘Governance challenges in esports: a best practice framework for addressing integrity and wellbeing issues’ (2022) 14(1) International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics 151-168, DOI:10.1080/19406940.2021.1976812.

[3] Y A Tuakli-Wosornu, S L Kirby, A Tivas, and D Rhind, ‘The journey to reporting child protection violations in sport: Stakeholder perspectives’ (2023) 13 Front. Psychol. 907247, 11. DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.907247.

[4] J T Holden, A Kaburakis, and R M Rodenberg, ‘Esports: Children, stimulants and video-gaming-induced inactivity’ (2018) 54 Journal of Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health 830–831, doi:10.1111/jpc.13897.

[5] See for example L Zhang, R Zhang and H Zhang, ‘Research on the Professionalization of E-Sports in China under the Age Restriction’ (2022) Forest Chemicals Review, July-August 2022, 890-899.

[6] See for example T Shinohara, ‘Brief Overview of the New Youth Protection Law and Esports in Switzerland’ (2024) 1 GLR, 2-7, or Swiss Esports Federation at


[7] See provision 2.7.1 of the ESL Pro Tour Dota2 Master Rulebook for the 2024 season, and provision 1.1 of the LEC Rulebook 2024 Season.

[8] Kelly et al. (n 2) 163.


  • Erika Riedl

    Erika is a multi-lingual sports lawyer with over 15 years of experience. She specialises in governance, regulatory and integrity matters. She sits as an Arbitrator for Sports Resolutions UK as well as for other disciplinary panels, and she is a CEDR accredited Mediator. Erika is also a member of the Integrity Board of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). In addition, she is currently completing her PhD studies in esports integrity. View all posts

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