DCMS Committee final report on Immersive and Addictive Technology published

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Commons Committee, Chaired by Damian Collins MP, examined the development of immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, and the potential impact these could have in the worlds of sport, entertainment and news. 

The inquiry also looked at how the addictive nature of some technologies can affect users’ engagement with gaming and social media, particularly amongst younger people.

The Committee’s inquiry gained a huge number of responses from those including: the gaming industry, the Gambling Commission, social media companies, academics, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Information Commissioner’s Office.

5Rights responded to the Committee’s call for written evidence, and made a number of notable points, which were published in the Committee’s final report. 5Rights noted:

  • Children often feel unable to disengage from platforms, due to popular platforms employing persuasive and behavioural design: nudging children to prolong their engagement for the purposes of harvesting more of their data; and
  • Government have been reluctant to tackle the relationship between design and compulsion, compulsion and addiction, and crucially, the business model that drives the design of services.

Damian Collins, Chair of the DCMS Committee, said:

“Social media platforms and online games makers are locked in a relentless battle to capture ever more of people’s attention, time and money. Their business models are built on this, but it’s time for them to be more responsible in dealing with the harms these technologies can cause for some users.

“Gaming contributes to a global industry that generates billions in revenue. It is unacceptable that some companies with millions of users and children among them should be so ill-equipped to talk to us about the potential harm of their products.

“Gaming disorder based on excessive and addictive game play has been recognised by the World Health Organisation. It’s time for games companies to use the huge quantities of data they gather about their players, to do more to proactively identify vulnerable gamers.

“Both games companies and the social media platforms need to establish effective age verification tools. They currently do not exist on any of the major platforms which rely on self-certification from children and adults.”

Read the DCMS Committee’s final report.