MP plans law for online gaming after 11-year-old kills self
The Madhya Pradesh (MP) government is planning to bring a law to regulate online gaming for kids. The proposed legislation makes online gaming, gambling, and betting illegal. Websites that host addictive games and applications are also expected to be banned. It also includes provisions for fines and a jail sentence for creating and operating games that harm kids.
- The development comes after an 11-year-old child from Bhopal last week died by suicide.
- The boy had spent money on online games without his parents' knowledge.
- Following the news, several parents have urged the government to regulate online gaming.
- Many parents also complain that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused children to spend a lot of unsupervised time on the internet.
Suryant Ojha, an 11-year-old boy from Bhopal's Shankaracharya colony, died by suicide last week after spending Rs. 6,000 on internet games without his parents' knowledge, said the police. "It is a very serious issue. We will bring an act in Madhya Pradesh to regulate online gaming. The draft is almost ready for it," MP Law Minister Narrottam Mishra said after the incident.
Eelizaa Khan, a two-year-old girl, is one of many kids fond of playing online games. Speaking to NDTV, her father said he feared she might develop health problems like back pain, adding, "ever since the pandemic started, children have been studying on laptops and mobile phones." He believes a law to regulate gaming is a positive move, but the government must strictly enforce it.
After a 13-year-old kid killed himself in MP in August last year, the state government had filed an FIR against the creators of the online game, Free Fire. "Police across the state have been directed to take action against the developers of such games," Mishra had said. The child's suicide note had sought his mother's forgiveness for losing Rs. 40,000 on Free Fire.
In the year 2020, 11,396 children under the age of 18 died by suicide, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. "As per available information, the total number of suicide committed by children (below 18 years) during the last three years were 9,431 in 2018, 9,613 in 2019, and 11,396 in 2020," Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Kumar Mishra had said.
In 2016, India's online gaming sector was valued at $543 million. It has since ballooned to $1.027 billion in 2020. India's online gamers are expected to increase from 360 million in 2020 to 510 million in 2022. Over 400 gaming startups are already accelerating the sector's growth. According to a survey by Rakuten Insights, around 68% of Indian respondents were involved in online gaming.