Gamers have spent millions on loot boxes during lockdown restrictions

  • Gamers have spent millons of pounds on so-called loot boxes during the pandemic, with experts warning the issue has become “really stark”
  • The NHS Northern Gambling Service said welfare problems for young gamers had been exacerbated by people having time on their hands during lockdown
  • Loot boxes see players spend money for the chance to unlock items that would help them during the game
  • The government said it was reviewing it to see if they were a form of gambling.
  • One 25-year-old gamer from Whitby, said: “Over the years me, my brother and dad have spent thousands…is it gambling? I would say it is. It’s just like pressing buttons on a slot machine. It’s always ‘what if?”
  • For more information on loot boxes and their possible link to gambling, read out recent blog here

Instagram home screen getting major changes

  • Instagram is making major design changes to its home screen for the first time in years
  • The company announced on Thursday that it’s adding Reels and Shop tabs to its home screen, highlighting the platform’s priorities
  • The Reels tab will lead users to Reels, which are short form videos similar to TikTok
  • For further information on Instagram reels, read our recent blog where we unpack the issue here or our video here
  • The Shop tab will highlight personalised recommendations, editors’ picks curated by the @shop channel, shoppable videos, and new product collections
  • Both tabs will make it easier for people to find what they want on the platform and go there immediately.
  • The Likes tab, as well as the Create tab where people upload photos are moving to the top right-hand corner next to the direct messages inbox

Mental health ‘one-stop shops’ for young people proposed by Plaid

        • Plaid Cymru has promised to “revolutionise” the way mental health support is provided to young people if it wins May’s Senedd election
        • The party says it would establish a network of “one-stop shops” where people could go for support
        • According to Plaid Cymru the “fully-costed” policy, based on a model used in New Zealand, would cost £7m
        • Ministers said they were improving young people’s mental health services, from prevention to specialist support
        • Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru’s health spokesperson, said the pandemic had highlighted the need for improved services
        • The scheme, if it went ahead, would initially see 14 hubs set up in unused town centre premises where young people could seek advice from therapists and counsellors


        TikTok ban in USA halted

        • The US Commerce Department has halted a ban on TikTok that was due to come into effect on Thursday night
        • The order would have prevented the app from being downloaded in the US
        • The Commerce Department delayed the ban “pending further legal developments,” citing a Philadelphia court ruling from September where three prominent TikTokers had argued the app should be allowed to operate in America
        • The decision will be a relief to the estimated 100 million US TikTok users
        • In September, TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance announced a deal with Walmart and Oracle to shift TikTok’s US assets into a new entity called TikTok Global
        • Donald Trump tentatively supported the deal. However, on Tuesday TikTok said it had had no feedback from the US government in two months

        EU considers new rules to protect LGBTQ+ community amid worrying trends

        • Brussels has conflicted with the Polish and Hungarian governments after proposing to criminalise hate speech against LGBTQ+ people under EU law and secure recognition of same-sex partnerships across the bloc’s borders
        • Věra Jourová, a European commissioner, said the measures followed new “worrying trends”. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights reported that 43% of LGBT people had declared feeling discriminated against in 2019, compared with 37% in 2012
        • The proposals were announced as part of the Commission’s first ever strategy to secure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and r people
        • Jourová cited attacks on Pride marches and the move by more than 100 Polish municipalities to declare themselves as “LGBT-free zones” as further evidence of increased discrimination
        • A so-called “LGBT ideology” was recently described as “more destructive than communist indoctrination” by Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda