YGAM has used the insight and experience gained from its successful work with the gambling sector to help inform its recent Parliamentary Symposium entitled Lootboxes, Apps and Freemium Content. The Symposium, which was held in the Jubilee Room situated in the annexe of Westminster Hall, was Chaired by Ian Lucas MP, a member of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and featured a speaker panel comprising Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO, the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie), Shahriar Coupal, Director of Committees, Advertising Standards Authority, Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE, consultant psychiatrist in Addictions, CNWL NHS Trust, former gaming addict, James Good, and YGAM’s Founder and Chief Executive, Lee Willows.

Reflecting on the success of the Parliamentary Symposium, which was attended by close to 70 stakeholders, Lee Willows said: “There has been increasing concern from parents, teachers, youth workers and medical professionals about time spent playing video games, monetary transactions within games and the potential mental and economic impact that this has on day to day life. In response to this feedback and to coincide with the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s current inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies, as well as the launch of the Gambling Commission’s National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms, and the launch of the YGAM Prevention and Education Strategy, we invited senior professionals from the advertising, gaming and medical industries, people with lived experience, parliament and government to discuss how we can work together to protect and safeguard young people. The outcomes of the discussion will help YGAM tailor approaches to gaming companies, inform educational outputs and encourage further collaboration.”

Dr Twist, emphasised the many positive benefits of gaming, highlighting data showing only 1% of the population are classified as being vulnerable. Dr Twist was clear in calling for a focus on digital navigation skills, empowering parents to enforce video gaming/online restrictions and increasing the evidence base of gaming disorder.

Dr Bowden-Jones explained that video gaming is increasingly recognised as a space for addiction and that educating the wider public in digital skills can help people tackle addictive habits. She highlighted that tech can be useful in handling such habits and called for more research, including the establishment of a gaming think-tank.

Lee Willows believes there are lessons from the gambling industry that can help drive the debate. He said: “Key themes of the discussion focused on developing an evidence base to better understand the characteristics of gaming disorder, the need for education, digital skills and learning from successes in gambling sector regulations. YGAM is keen to work with Dr Twist on resources and education, sharing information and advice that has already been created and explore the development of any new ideas or collaborations to achieve a greater reach.” He added: “There is the appetite for a further Symposium and/or gaming think-tank which will be planned for the autumn to coincide with the publication of YGAM’s latest academic impact assessment.”

The full report form YGAM’s Symposium will be available to download from www.ygam.org in June.