Loot boxes and gambling
There has been a lot in the press recently regarding online videogames and whether loot boxes – a ‘lucky dip’ where gamers spend real money to buy additional content for games – encourage gambling in young people. The BBC website reported a call from MPs to ban loot boxes in online gaming and then followed this up with a report from Belgium where loot boxes have already been banned. The Eurogamer website also reported that the Children’s Commissioner have called on loot boxes to be banned.
Loot boxes and similar in-game paid content is now used across mobile, tablet and console gaming and parents are strongly encouraged to keep an eye on their children’s gaming and any online spending.
Knife crime is a huge concern in London and other major cities as this BBC report on the rise in knife crime emphasises. The statistics featured in the BBC report demonstrate that the majority of perpetrators and victims are young people so it is very important to be vigilant.
The Home Office has produced this guide to talking to your child about knife crime while the Parentinfo website has guidance on knife crime and talking to your child about gangs.
There has been an increased focus both in the media and from government regarding the criminal gang involvement known as county lines. The Children’s Commissioner estimates there are at least 46,000 children in England who are involved in gang activity and it is estimated that around 4,000 teenagers in London alone are being exploited through child criminal exploitation.
The Children’s Society website has this guide to county lines and the signs associated with criminal exploitation. The National Crime Agency also has information online regarding this current issue. The Guardian website ran a feature interviewing victims of county lines with the headline ‘They start as friends but end up as bullies’.
Mental health is an increasingly high-profile topic in society and the media - particularly with exams season. The Mental Health Foundation offer a series of publications on how to look after your mental health that are available to download for free. These include 'How to overcome fear and anxiety', 'How to sleep better' and 'How to manage and reduce stress'. You can also visit our Safeguarding page focusing on mental health for further tips and links.
Media attention in recent weeks has focused on e-safety and electronic devices. The BBC reported an NSPCC call for immediate action on online safety while last year a similar article reported a study suggesting children don't feel safe online. Online video streaming site YouTube has also apologised recently after disturbing videos appeared in its kids' app. You can find more guidance on e-safety, including top tips from Greenford High School Cybermentors, on our E-Safety page.
Alongside safety online, there has been a lot of media attention recently regarding appropriate screen time for young people. This opinion piece on the Guardian website by Jean Twenge, a Psychology Professor at San Diego university, suggests 90 minutes a day should be the limit. She also offers links to a multitude of academic studies that have explored this topic further. The British Psychological Society, meanwhile, is calling for more evidence on appropriate levels of screen time for young people and offers a range of recommendations for parents and carers. These include:
- Minimise screen use before bedtime
- Encourage children to engage in a variety of activities away from screens
- Parents/carers should discuss the different aspects of digital media with their children and encourage positive media use
- Spend time online together to help young children get the most from educational content
Source: British Psychological Society, January 2018
young people and anxiety
There has been a lot in the news recently regarding young people and anxiety, depression and mental health. This BBC article highlighted concerns with access to mental health services while a study in September suggested a quarter of teenage girls experience the symptoms of depression. The Evening Standard reported this study alongside a guide to parents in helping a teenager with depression or anxiety.
The charity Young Minds has more information about anxiety including symptoms and how it can be treated. You can also find further information on stress, anxiety and depression on the NHS website.