Are Kid's Games Preparing them to be Gamblers?
An analysis of common trends in computer games that children play, a look at popular computer games and a discussion of whether these practices are gearing children up to be gamblers.
While more countries around the world open their doors to legalized online gambling, children between the ages of 8 to 16 are spending hours on end playing their favorite online games. Most gaming regulators have so far turned a blind eye towards regulations governing free to play games that target children as there is no money involved in these games.
However many gaming regulators are now revisiting that stance as they have found that gaming operators are using different strategies such as loot boxes to target the younger generation and get them to bet either using fake money or special digital currencies to purchase ‘special items’ that makes the game a lot more interesting and competitive for them.
Gaming operators are constantly coming out with new games to keep the younger generation entertained at all times. Many of these games not only promote gambling but also violence which should be especially concerning to parents and gambling regulators across the world.
Top Games That Children Play Online
Most children in both Asian and Western countries have access to a smartphone or a tablet that they use to access the internet on a daily basis. Kids are well versed in downloading the latest app and finding the best social casino games and video games. There are also millions of parents who are happy to buy their kids the latest game on the market as they want to please their kids and also keep them busy.
Some of the top games that teenagers around the world play today include Rules of Survival, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Maelstrom, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Grand Theft Auto V and Destiny. These games can keep kids glued to their screens as they look to find ways to keep getting better and going to the next level. Viewers also watch stramers live game play on twitch.tv
Most parents are not aware of the games their kids are playing nor are they aware of the games that have loot boxes which allow kids to make in-game purchases. Some of the top loot box games include FIFA 19, Tom Clancy's The Division 2, Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms, Minion Masters, Modern Combat 5: Blackout and Star Wars Battlefront II.
Video Games Emphasize Gambling Traits
Whether the video game promotes in-game purchases or just allows children to play for free, it is important for gaming regulators in their respective countries to have in place a robust system that tests these games before they are released in the market. This must be done to ensure that gambling operators are not breaching regulators and incorporating features in their games that allow children to find loopholes and play for real money.
These video games play a role in developing addictive behavior in the younger generation as it encourages them to spend long hours in front of their screen, teases them with special gifts that they need to purchase to do better at the game and encourages them to keep coming back for more.
These are the traits of most online gamblers who go on benders spending long hours playing real money games, exhausting their bankrolls and getting into debt in the hopes of winning their next bet. Gambling addicts cling on to a false hope that their next hand or next roll of the dice will be their lucky break.
There is no doubt that children who have little to no monitoring of their online gaming activities are at a higher risk of developing problem gambling habits.
Countries Stepping Into To Protect Kids
The video gaming market catering to kids is growing rapidly across the world and China is right up there when it comes to the biggest video gaming markets in the world. Beijing decided in 2018 to address the concerns of Chinese kids spending way too much online playing video games.
The government decided to get video game providers to implement facial recognition software that will allow them to impose time restrictions on the number of hours children can spend playing their games. The government decided that children under the age of 12 can play up to 1 hour per day while children who are below 18 will be able to play up to two hours per day on video games.
India decided to take action against PUBG after numerous complaints emerged of children getting addicted to the game, skipping their exams to continue playing and suffering from a lack of sleep due to late hours playing PUBG. The National Child Rights Commission also pushed for a complete ban on the game given the fact that it promotes violence.
Some of the other countries that followed in the footsteps of India include Jordan, Nepal, China and Iraq.
Finding Balance – Parents Must Step In
While there are a lot of negative aspects associated with these video games and the tendencies they have to encourage gambling addiction, there are also positives that can come out of playing video games.
American teenager Kyle Giersdorf made headlines in July 2019 when he became a World Champion playing Fortnite – one of the most popular games in the world. His first prize finish saw him take home a whopping $3 million in prize money. A 15 year old from London took home over $1 million for his second place finish in the same eSports tournament.
The video gaming market will continue to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years. The popularity of eSports tournaments has shown kids that they can make a career playing these games and win millions if they are good enough.
The problem is finding balance! How much is too much can only be determined on an individual basis as Kyle Giersdorf admits that he spends hours each day practicing his Fortnite skills.
Parents will need to get more involved with what games their children are playing online, how much time they are spending playing these games and if they are using real money or digital currencies to play these games. That’s the best way to find balance and keep kids from being over exposed to games which encourage gambling addiction.