Ministers planning to block kids from spending sprees while playing computer games

W2BEP1 Vilnius, Lithuania - March 2, 2019: Child playing Fortnite game. Fortnite is popular online video game developed by Epic Games

MINISTERS want to bolster safeguards to stop children going on spending sprees while playing computer games.

They have told tech companies to take steps to stop players making in-game purchases, known as loot boxes, without parental permission.

Ministers want to bolster safeguards to stop children going on spending sprees

Nadine Dorries says parents should have peace of mind while their kids game

Players can buy items such as extra powers to boost performance in their favourite games.

But evidence suggests loot box buyers are more likely to go on to have gambling problems.

New laws are being threatened if game companies do not do enough to protect children.

Platforms such as the Xbox already require parental permission for under-18s to outlay money within games.

The intervention has been made following the government’s call for evidence on the subject first launched in 2020.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “We want to stop children going on spending sprees online without parental consent, spurred on by in-game purchases like loot-boxes.

“Games companies and platforms need to do more to ensure that controls and age-restrictions are applied so that players are protected from the risk of gambling harms

“Children should be free to enjoy gaming safely, whilst giving parents and guardians peace of mind.”

Dr Jo Twist, Chief Executive Officer of Uk games trade body Ukie, said: “As a responsible industry, we have committed to exploring additional ways to support players and parents to build on our existing work developing and raising awareness of parental controls.”

The video game industry contributed £2.9 billion to the economy in 2019 up from just £400 million in 2010.

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