Safeguarding: Loot boxes and the blurred lines between gaming and gambling

The lines between video-gaming and gambling have become blurred, representing a distinct safeguarding risk for our young people. Anna Harper discusses the role of education in addressing the problem
Image: Adobe Stock

According to the Online Gaming Statistics survey (Uswitch, 2023), 91% of UK children aged 3 to 15 play games on some type of digital device.

The most common age for online gamers is 12 to 15 – 76% of this age group said that they played online games, with consoles being the leading gaming device (59%).

Other findings include that 61% of children own a smartphone device by the age of 10 and more than half also play online games using a mobile phone.

In addition to providing entertainment and enjoyment, video-gaming offers a spectrum of benefits spanning cognitive, social, and emotional dimensions.

Yet, akin to other rapidly advancing technological domains, there are emerging risks. The convergence of video-gaming and gambling has raised concerns, particularly with the proliferation of in-game purchases, “loot boxes”, and similar mechanics that echo elements of gambling.

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