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How Is Govt Permitting Life Damaging Online Games Despite Ban? Madras High Court Takes Suo Moto Cognizance

Upasana Sajeev
13 Oct 2022 8:56 AM GMT
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The Madurai bench of the Madras High recently took suo moto cognizance of increased addiction of online gaming among teenagers. The court was hearing a habeas corpus petition relating to a missing girl, who was later found to be addicted to playing an online game called "free fire".

The bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Sathya Narayana Prasad wondered how these online games were permitted despite being banned by the Government of India.

In our view, the State as well as the Central Governments must come forward with a clear-cut report as to how these types of online games which damage the life of younger generation, are permitted despite the ban imposed by the Government of India. We are, therefore, of the view that constitutional Court has got the responsibility to take up the issue in larger public interest.

The court highlighted the several ways in which the addiction to online gaming was affecting the lives of the school going children and college students and women and the lives of those around them.

Aside from the fact that the games allowed players to interact with strangers on the internet who may use inappropriate language or be potential sexual predators or data thieves, the court added that the addiction has also become a major public health issue and a concern for parents.

The children who are at the verge of schooling and college students, are almost become addicted to such online role-playing games like, Free Fire, Subway Surfers etc., and it has taken a heavy toll on their physical, emotional, psychological, social and academic life. By such addiction, the younger generation become a prey to ophthalmic issues, musculo skeletal issues, neck ailments, obesity, anxiety and depression.

The court added that these children who were absorbed in online gaming often loosed out on sleep and lost out on what was happening in the real world. Further, this sleep deprivation also affected their physical and mental health. Further, this addiction resulted in constant conflicts with their family members and affected the peaceful family atmosphere. In some cases it even led to marital conflicts as parents ended up blaming each other for giving access to phone and money to children for playing such games.

The court also added that the teenagers, who were the backbone of the country were wasting their teen years by playing these games and thus also affecting the development of the nation.

The younger generation are the backbone for the development of our country in all fileds, for which, they should be fit physically, psychologically, economically and socially, but by virtue of wasting their precious teenages in playing such online games, watching filth, chit chatting and sticking to social media, they are deviating from the productive means like, academics and healthy hobbies, thereby, they put their future at stake, consequently the development of our country is affected at large.

Thus, the court felt it is necessary to curb this menace and sensitise the youth through counselling. For this, it was important to include the police, social workers and the parents.

Thus, the court directed the Registrar General (Judicial) to register a Public Interest Litigation to regulate the use of VPN applications, to regulate Youtube Channels which were providing tutorials on installing the pirated versions of the banned games and to direct the Central Government to take steps for effective implementation of banning of games and create awareness programs on the impact of paying such violent games.

The court has made the Central government and the Union Government parties to the proceedings along with YouTube and Google.

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