GambleAware partners Parent Zone for video game education

16 September 2019

Problem gambling funding body GambleAware has joined forces with digital family life specialist Parent Zone on a new initiative designed to educate families about potential risks faced by children when playing online video games.

The project is primarily focused on eight to eleven year-olds, with parents able to access various resources and advice to improve their knowledge of issues such as mechanics similar to those found in gambling products, including loot boxes.

Parent Zone founder and chief executive Vicki Shotbolt noted that features such as loot boxes can be attractive to children. Young people can find themselves "stuck in a loop" of buying loot boxes in the hope of winning various items, she said.

“Gaming is an important, and fun, part of many families’ lives, but lots of parents do not know about the gambling-like features that are in games - and the risks these can lead to,” Shotbolt explained.

“We want parents to ask what games their children are playing, check that they are happy with what they are doing in those games and know what their children are spending money on.”

The initiative launched with a short animation advising why gambling-like risks in online games is an important issue, with a second film to offer more detailed advice about how parents can reduce these risks. These will feature speakers such as young gamers explaining to parents and children alike how certain mechanics work, and what potential problems they can lead to.

Other resources include an online quiz and glossary allowing parents and carers to explore the topic further and learn more about how to protect children when gaming online.

“More and more children are being exposed to gambling like activity and it is increasingly important that parents are aware of the risks of gambling and talk to their children about it," GambleAware director of education Jane Rigbye added.

“We’re really pleased to be able to work with Parent Zone to help educate parents about the gambling-like activity that their kids might be exposed to and make sure they know about the existing help and support that is available.”

The new partnership comes after a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee last week called on the UK Government to regulate video game loot boxes to help protect children from potential gambling-related harm.

At present, loot boxes are not regulated, but the committee said that as they can be purchased with real money and do not reveal their contents beforehand, they should be classed as games of chance and therefore be regulated under the 2005 Gambling Act in the next parliamentary session.