7 suicides attributed to online gaming addiction in NCRB records from 2017-20: Govt in Lok Sabha

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The Government yesterday said it is committed to an Open, Safe & Trusted and Accountable internet. This was in response to an unstarred question in Lok Sabha by a group of MPs.

“With the increasing proliferation of internet coupled with global pandemic scenario, the average time being spent on the internet by Indian users has increased,” Minister for State in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) Rajeev Chandrashekhar said.

He said the Government is aware of the possible risks and challenges including that of user harms associated with online games. According to the response, the Ministry does not maintain data for the number of children who committed suicide due to addiction to internet games.

Referring to the data provided by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), which maintains all crime statistics, 7 suicides were attributed to online gaming addiction from 2017 to 2020.

The Minister said “Betting and gambling” are listed as State subjects under Entries 34 of List II in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India, thereby giving States the power to legislate in this domain. Accordingly, the States/ Union Territories have enacted their laws to deal with gambling including online gambling within their jurisdictions.

He said his Ministry blocks Apps/URLs including online games, based on the specific requests received from the designated Nodal Officers of the Ministries/States on grounds of integrity and sovereignty of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relationship with foreign states, public order and to prevent incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above circumstances, following due process specified in the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009, notified under section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

On complaints received from states and UTs, the Minister said complaints in the form of grievances including from Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Puducherry and some Hon’ble Members of Parliament were received by his Ministry.

The MEITY in February said that the government is aware of possible risks and harms associated with online games. This reply came in as a response to a set of queries by Vinay Tendulkar, a BJP Rajya Sabha member from Goa.

A few months back, the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri. Anurag Thakur on Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha that the draft discussion paper titled Guiding Principles for the Uniform National-level Regulation of Online Fantasy Sports Platforms in India was released by the NITI Aayog in December 2020 has been shared with various ministries.

In July 2021, in response to an RTI, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has indicated that the draft guidelines released by the NITI Aayog in December 2020, as well as the need for a central regulatory framework for online gaming in India, maybe deliberated upon by the Council of Ministers.