YGAM launches Parent Hub education service

The Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) has committed to boosting education surrounding gambling-related harms with the launch of a new ‘Parent Hub’.

The new service will provide families with ‘resources, information and activities to help build digital resilience and safeguard their children’.

Amanda Atkinson, Head of Parental Engagement at YGAM said: “The enormous variety of games and in-app purchases available can make it confusing for parents to keep on top of safety controls.

“Through our educational resources, we are focused on providing crucial information to parents so they can identify changes in behaviours and understand the effects that gambling and gaming may have on mental and financial well being.”

In addition, YGAM will also offer a two-hour workshop for parents of primary and secondary school children which can be delivered in schools or local communities, providing information, through activities and videos to boost understanding of online gambling.

Parent Hub will support parents in understanding why loot boxes appeal to children, while also addressing risks associated with gaming, including mental health and financial implications.

The advice also shows how parents can take important steps to safeguard their children, including the use of parental controls and identifying potential signs of gambling-related harm.

YGAM has also teamed up with researchers from Newcastle and Loughborough Universities to provide further information on loot boxes, offering advice that ‘builds on research at the universities which explores children and young people’s experiences of in-game purchases and the effects this has on their wellbeing’.

Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the research will look at ‘the blurring’ between gaming and gambling in digital games, specifically around the purchase of loot boxes.

“For some children, the act of opening a loot box is as important as what it contains,” explained Dr James Ash, Reader in Technology, Space and Society at Newcastle University, who is leading the research. “Feelings of surprise and suspense lead to repeat purchase of loot boxes. But this is often short-lived.

“Children and young people have told us how they feel disappointment, frustration, anger, and regret at loot box purchases, yet they are still driven to purchase again. This is concerning, given the deliberate design of these mechanisms – the visual stimulus, the randomised contents, and the very unfavourable odds for unboxing rare items – which can lead to repeat loot box purchases.”

Dr Sarah Mills, Reader in Human Geography at Loughborough University and Co-Investigator, added: “This research values children and young people’s first-hand experiences, and reveals how they make sense of these gaming systems in their everyday lives at home.

“These views are important to capture, especially when working with relevant charities that support children, young people and families directly. The educational work of charities such as YGAM is more important than ever during the current challenges of lockdown.”

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