Keep Calm in COVID

When it comes to student life in the middle of a pandemic, everyone is a fresher

Whether you are in your first year or you’re preparing to write your dissertation, this generation of university students face a year like no other with a whole new set of challenges. Your mental and physical health, managing money, socialising and study – all these take on a different form in this new socially distanced student experience, and you’re tackling all of them at once. Then throw in the elevated risk of gaming and gambling related harm – and it creates a potentially harmful situation that we at YGAM want to help you avoid. Now is the best time to consider how you’re keeping calm in COVID and testing how much you’re looking after yourself ahead of a new semester.

This is a quick read – so grab a cuppa, get settled and check out our guide to Keeping Calm in COVID.


I imagine you have heard enough about COVID-19, but that’s half the challenge – no guide to keeping calm could miss it. We’ve got a summary of the most important information, and some useful places to stay up to date.

We have left the tier system and are back in lockdown. Wherever you live and/or study, you previously had a local COVID alert level: Medium, High, or Very High. You might know these as tier 1, 2, 3, or the near lockdown tier 4 which are ultimately decided by the government based on incidence rates in your area. It’s worthwhile keeping an eye on the new rules and the tiers for both your study address and home address as these may change when we leave lockdown.

COVID-19 Resources


Many of you will have been asked to check in via the NHS app to track and trace the spread of COVID-19. The NHS also manages testing as well as the guidance on distancing, isolating, and other measures.

The Government Travel Advice

If you’re looking at leaving the UK you will also need to be aware of the rules in the country you’re visiting.

The Office for Students’ guide

Not to be confused with local COVID alert levels, the Department for Education has assigned four tiers of restriction for universities to operate teaching within. Tier 1 being business as usual, tier 4 meaning buildings are only open for essential workers and essential face to face teaching.


When we locked down in March, as gamers we knew we would be gaming more. Staying at home with no real way to spend time with our friends meant gaming was the natural solution. Lockdown brought the opportunity to complete that game you hadn’t quite got the knack of, invest in the game you’d been eyeing up, or sharpen up your skills online against your friends.

The initial boost seen at the start of lockdown could soon be offset by the lack of new games. Changes to working practices has meant delays to music, film, television, and gaming releases. In reality, there hasn’t been a downturn in profits thanks to a push on microtransactions within our favourite games.

Despite the pandemic, the two biggest brands – Microsoft and PlayStation – have launched their new console series – the PS5 and Xbox Series X. This will be the biggest console head-to-head in seven years since the clash of the PS4 and Xbox One, and everyone will be wanting to get their hands on one of them. Many students will have one on their present list, and this reward after a tough year is well deserved. Just try and not forget your studies you need to return to!

Loot Boxes

Loot boxes are a big part of in-game spending. Our student manager at Queen Mary, University of London discussed loot boxes with universities this summer.


There has been a push on microtransactions within our favourite games, which EA discussed with Gamespot.

Student Finance

It’s more important than ever to budget and be aware of how much you can afford to spend on gaming. blackbullion run a blog for student finance and budgeting needs full of great support.

Gaming Disorder

At its worst, the World Health Organisation recognises gaming disorder as an illness. They have recognised nine signs of gaming disorder. Visit the tool on our gaming page to see if you can recognise what these are.


There was a lot of concern this year as to how the pandemic might impact peoples’ gambling habits. While casinos, bingo halls, and betting shops were closed, online casino, bingo, and betting games were available and running 24/7. The Guardian discussed the impact at the start of lockdown.

Whilst there isn’t the evidence to suggest many new people were beginning to gamble, those who already gambled found themselves opening new accounts, trying new forms, and spending more time and/or money on gambling.

How does this impact students? Your idea of a stereotypical gambler might not be someone who looks like you but our 2019 research showed that almost half (47%) of all students had gambled in the past twelve months. Students who have gambled in the last twelve months are more likely to be worried about their finances than students who haven’t, so lockdown will have likely affected the gambling of someone you study with.

In fact, our research showed that 24% of student gamblers are at some risk of problem gambling, with 8% already problem gamblers.

Stuck at home for longer periods of time bored, anxious, or both can make you more susceptible to advertising and social media. We’ve all been there. Football is back, with more televised matches than ever. Moves have been made recently to ensure gambling advertising doesn’t appear on media targeted to children. There are no longer gambling adverts featured on a broadcast once a football match kicks off until when it ends, called the whistle-to-whistle ban. Even so, notifications from gambling apps from your phone can pop up at any time so we recommend going into your phone settings and turning these notifications off.

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