The Madhya Pradesh government will soon enforce a law in the state for regulating online gaming for children. This comes after an 11-year-old boy from Bhopal died by suicide last week after spending money on online games without the knowledge of his family.
The proposed law includes declaring online gaming, gambling, and betting as crimes. Websites and applications hosting addictive games will be banned. There will also be a provision for a jail sentence and a fine for creating and operating online games that harm children.
11-year-old Suryant Ojha from Shankaracharya colony in Bhopal had last week died by suicide after he spent Rs 6,000 on online games without the knowledge of his parents, according to the police.
"It is a very serious issue. These suicides are connected to online gaming. To prevent such incidents, we are bringing in an Act to regulate gaming. The draft of the law is ready and we will soon finalise it," Dr Narrottam Mishra, Law Minister of the state, said.
Many parents, concerned after the news of the suicide, have also demanded that the government regulate online gaming. The pandemic has forced children to spend a lot of time online unsupervised, they say.
Eelizaa Khan, a two-year-old girl, is one of several children in the state who are now spending a lot of time on online games. Her parents fear she might develop health issues and want the government to regulate addictive games to protect children.
"Ever since the pandemic started, children have been studying on laptops and mobile phones. It has caused health issues like back pain and issues with eyesight as well. They also play games, we can't keep checking on them all the time," Fahim Khan, Eelizaa Khan's father, told NDTV.
Mr Khan says that bringing a law to regulate gaming is a welcome step but the government should strictly implement it as well.
In August, the state government had filed a police case against the developers of the online game "Free Fire" for creating such addictive games for which children are putting their lives at stake.
The first draft of the law is ready and officials are busy giving the proposed bill a final shape, sources said.