Children watching filth, addicted to violent online games: Madras HC seeks report from central government why ban not implemented effectively

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The High Court took note of the menace of online games and their impact on young children and noted that “police and social activists have got a definite role to play in this matter and parents have a primary responsibility to watch as to what their children are doing with their smart phones and computers.”

A Division Bench of Justice R. Mahadevan and Justice J. Sathaya Narayana Prasad of the Madras High Court has directed the central government to take steps for the effective implementation of banning of “violent online games” and to create awareness programmes in all the schools and colleges regarding their impact.

“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,” court said.

The case was taken up as a Suo Moto Public Interest Writ Petition taken up by the High Court, while dealing with a case where a girl who went missing was found addicted to playing an online mobile game namely, 'Free Fire’.

The counsel present in court submitted that Chinese games like PUBG, Garena Free Fire, and Call of Duty were banned in 2020 by the central government, however, these games entered the market again in 2021. Further, they told court that games like free fire are more violent and have a drastic change in the behavior of the children.

It was also submitted by the counsel that there are a number of cases in this regard published in the newspapers. Further, it was pointed out that a child had even committed suicide since his parent had refused to allow him to play Free Fire Game.

Advocates pointed out that there is no regulation of in-app messaging and call services and can affect the privacy of the users and that VPN services are used along with tutorials that are available for installing and accessing the games through foreign servers.

The bench noted that –

“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.”

Further, taking a holistic view of children’s future and the overall development of the nation the bench noted –

“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”

It was directed that the Central government regulate VPN and YouTube channels that publish videos to install pirated applications, and take steps in implementing the banning of games, thereby creating awareness programmes in all schools and colleges regarding the impact of playing such violent online games. 

Case Title: Suo Moto Public Writ Petition