Experts in digital safety
What are loot boxes?
Are loot boxes harmful to your kids?
According to a study conducted by the Royal Society, “loot boxes either cause problem gambling among older adolescents, allow game companies to profit from adolescents with gambling problems for massive monetary rewards, or both of the above.” According to the Mayo Clinic, gambling during childhood or the teenage years increases the risk of developing compulsive gambling as an adult. In short, when parents allow adolescents to buy loot boxes, they may be exposing them to lifelong negative consequences.
Why are kids more susceptible to gambling behavior than adults?
- Kids’ brain structure and function are less developed and linked to increased impulsivity.
- Kids may lack effective ways to cope with turbulent and stressful situations and may turn to gambling activities as a way to escape.
Loot boxes: a growing concern
How to protect your child from loot boxes
2. Set up passwords for in-game purchases and make sure your kids have to ask for permission before spending money. Change those passwords frequently.
3. Set up parental controls such as Qustodio to block games with loot boxes you think are inappropriate or risky or if your child exhibits any form of digital, gaming or gambling addiction.
4. Disable pop-ups.
5. Spend time playing games with your child to familiarize yourself with the games they play and the kinds of virtual items they offer.
6. Have a conversation with your child about the loot boxes, the power and tricks of advertising and decide together if the purchase is worth it. Having them spend their own money, or a percentage of it, can help them start to understand better the value of money. But set a firm monthly limit on how much they can spend.
Signs your child may have a gambling problem
- Anxiousness, moodiness or irritability. Your child can’t think about anything else but getting home to play a game with a loot box or to get online and gets overly upset when they can’t connect.
- Hiding and denying the problem. Your child lies or has an unrealistic perception about the amount of time they spend playing games with loot boxes on a gambling activity. You can use parental control software like Qustodio to monitor how often your child actually connects to games or gambling sites.
- Stealing. Your child may be caught for stealing money, or using your password to support their gambling habit.
- Isolating. Your child may spend a lot of time alone and do less of the activities they used to love. Problem gamblers tend to isolate themselves from family and friends.
- Poor grades and neglected responsibilities. Your child may start to have poor grades, skip doing homework or going to class. At home they may stop helping out around the house or taking care of their own physical appearance.