Madras High Court takes suo moto cognizance of government permitting online games despite ban

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The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court recently took suo moto cognizance of the growing addiction to online gaming among teenagers. The court was hearing a habeas corpus petition related to a missing girl who became addicted to playing an online game called “Free Fire”.

A bench of Justices R Mahadevan and Satya Narayan Prasad wondered how these online games were allowed despite being banned by the Indian government.

The Court said, “In our view, the State and Central Governments should come forward with a clear report as to how such online games which harm the lives of the younger generation are allowed despite the restrictions imposed by the Government of India. Therefore, we are of the view that the Constitutional Court has got the responsibility to take up this issue in the larger public interest.”

The court highlighted the many ways in which the addiction to online gaming is affecting the lives of school-going children and college students and people around them. In addition to the fact that the games allowed players to interact with strangers over the internet, who might use inappropriate language or be potential sexual predators or data thieves, the court noted that addiction is also a major public health issue. It has also become a matter of concern for the parents.

The Court observed that the children who are schooling and college students have become addicted to online role-playing games like Free Fire, Subway Surfers, etc., and this has taken a huge toll on their physical, emotional, psychological, and social lifestyle. With this kind of addiction, the younger generation falls prey to eye-related issues, musculo skeletal issues, neck diseases, obesity, anxiety, and depression.

The court further said that these children who are absorbed in online gaming often get lost in sleep and lose out on what is happening in the real world. Apart from this, this lack of sleep also affects their physical and mental health. Moreover, this addiction resulted in frequent conflicts with their family members and affected the peaceful family environment.

In some cases, it even gives rise to marital conflicts as the parents accused each other of giving phones and money to the children to play such games.

The court also observed that juveniles, who are the backbone of the country, are wasting their teenage years by playing these games and thereby affecting the development of the nation.