Your regular in-app roundup of current digital safeguarding news.
Daily Safeguarding Update
Ministers Call for Loot Boxes to be Considered Gambling
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will launch a call for evidence on Loot Boxes, the controversial feature which allows players to spend money on in-game rewards such as special characters or equipment, without knowing what they will get.
The move is motivated by concerns that loot boxes are encouraging gambling behaviours among children, which may lead to addiction in later life.
Labour MP Carolyn Harris said, “they are a virtually speculative commodity that only helps to normalise and encourage young people to take a chance…all too often this will lead to youngsters developing an addiction to gambling”.
Research Shows Youtube Usage Among Children Declining
Qustodio, a digital safety app maker has conducted research on app usage habits of children and young people which found Youtube’s dominance is under threat. Children now split time between YouTube and other applications such as Netflix, TikTok, and games such as Roblox.
On average, children who are between four to fifteen years old now spend 85 minutes daily watching videos on Google’s YouTube and 80 minutes per day watching TikTok videos. YouTube is the most-used application among children, and they are watching twice as many videos daily as kids watched 4 years ago
Around 60,000 families with children aged between four and 14 years old across the United States, United Kingdom, and Spain provided data for the study, which encompasses the online habits of children from Feb 2019-Apr 2020.
Thames Valley Police Arrest Over 30 Suspected Paedophiles
Det Ch Insp Matt Darnell said reports of online child sexual abuse in the Thames Valley were 91% higher in the first five months of 2020 than in the same period last year. He said: “Sadly, we believe that criminals have looked to exploit the fact that more children have been at home and online.”
Convicted Paedophile Attempted to Groom Teenage Boy
The suspect was jailed in 1992 for a series of indecent assaults on children and in 2009 was convicted of indecent image charges and made subject to a sexual offences prevention order banning him from befriending under-16s unless their guardians were aware of his criminal past.
At sentencing, Judge Jason Taylor QC said “you knew what you were doing was wrong and I am confident in the view that your motives were not innocent.” The man was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
Campaigners say concern over underfunded children’s services has escalated after the government introduced statutory instrument 445 on 23 April. The legislation has removed or weakened 65 vital legal protections for young people in care, leaving already vulnerable children at risk of becoming exploited.
Patricia Durr, chief executive of ECPAT UK, said: “This has taken place against a backdrop of government underfunding of local authority children’s services, lack of mandatory training on child trafficking for professionals and changes to children’s social care regulations during the pandemic.”