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Call by Folkestone MP Damian Collins for more controls on computer game loot box playing

A Kent MP is among a group calling for children to be banned from buying so-called "loot boxes" in computer games.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee also thinks their sale should be regulated under gambling legislation to protect players.

Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins heads up the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins heads up the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

The virtual treasure chests contain random prizes - such as key characters or levels - and can be bought using real money.

Folkestone and Hythe's Damian Collins chairs the committee.

He said: "People often spend very large amounts of money, sometimes children with their parents' credit cards.

"The games companies aren't doing enough to monitor what people are spending and challenge unusual spending patterns.

"We also think that both video games companies and social media companies should take more responsibility for the way people engage with the tools they have created online.

"This is to monitor more effectively the amount of time they spend doing that.

"We've seen cases of people who are suffering from gaming disorder who are playing games for addictive lengths of time."

Mr Collins said that if people are playing at addictive levels, such as 10 to 15 hours a day, that is cause for concern.

And the games companies can monitor how long people are playing for.

He added that parents can't always check what their children do online when people spend excessively, companies should intervene.

He explained: "When games companies or social media companies can see unusual patterns of behaviour they should raise the flag.

"If with your bank you make an unusual transaction from your account often you get a call from the bank saying: 'Is this really you?'

"If all of a sudden someone starts spending thousands of pounds on a loot box in a game , rather than just accepting the payments, the games company should go to the account holder and say: "Can we just check this is really you?'

"That may save some parents the huge expense of seeing their children racking up huge bills on loot boxes and games."

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