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Study Finds That Children Are Facing Bullying Over Purchase Of In-Game Items

Oslo Metropolitan University reseraches Kamilla Knutsen Steinners and Clara Julia Reich have found in a study of money in video games that children are falling victim to bullying over the purchase of in-game cosmetic items such as skins.

Speaking in a Crossplay newsletter (translated by ScienceNorway.no), the researchers commented as follows:

There is still much to learn about the social dynamics within children’s virtual worlds and governments and policymakers worldwide are interested in this topic from a regulatory perspective. Video games are also an important part of children’s everyday lives and there is little research on young people’s digital consumption in a Norwegian context.

The pressure to fit in resembles what is already taking place in other contexts but takes on new forms. Some children might end up feeling excluded if they lack the resources (e.g., Wi-Fi, gaming equipment, in-game currency) to play with their friends or might get picked on based on what ‘skin’ they are wearing.

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The study also discovered that some children are not even away that they are spending real money in these games, with games such as Fortnite and Roblox masking these details behind in-game currency such as V-Bucks and Robux, respectively.

Some children talked about various strategies they used to protect themselves from commercial influence, such as not visiting the in-game shop or doing chores (like vacuuming) instead of playing video games,” said the researchers. “Social influence was added to the commercial pressure, where the children wanted to stay updated on ‘skin-trends’ and to belong in-game among peers.

[Source – Crossplay Newsletter via Science Norway, VGC]