PREPARING FOR 18 - Recognising the signs


The Warning Signs

93% of 11 to 16 year olds play games online.  The digital world that we live in can be a minefield for families and parents/carers.  The way in which children ‘game’ now is completely different to how modern day parents/carers would have experienced.  The ‘monetization’ of gaming is at the forefront of research and there are increasing concerns surrounding online gaming and the subsequent links this has with underage gambling.  

A recent report found that children who enjoyed the risk of simulated online gaming were more likely to gamble later on in life.  Almost half a million children in England and Wales are gambling regularly, with an estimated 55,000 children aged 11 to 16 in the UK addicted to gambling (Gambling Commission 2018).

Disordered gambling is sometimes referred to as the 'silent killer'. Unlike drug or alcohol addictions the signs are sometimes harder to spot and if not dealt with at an early age can have a devastating affect on both the gambler and their families later on in life.

10 things to look for - Preparing for 18


  • Isolated behaviour - excessive use of devices and lying about the amount of  time spent online  
  •  Spending money online without permission
  •  Moody, aggressive and argumentative behaviour 
  •  Change in attitude to school 
  • 'The Look' - zoned out, greyness, looking ill, loss of weight and a lack of pride in appearance
  • Compulsive eating and not eating healthily
  • Obsessive behaviour
  • Becoming disengaged with family life and irregular sleeping patterns
  • Being impatient and not prepared to wait - nothing is ever good enough and always wanting more
  • Dishonesty - telling lies and stealing things

10 things to do - Preparing for 18

If you are able to recognise the early warning signs associated with both gaming and gambling addictions then it is not too late to put barriers and preventative measures in place to support a youngster because poor financial decisions made when turning 18 can potentially have devastating life-changing implications.  

Once again this is by no means an exhaustive list but just some strategies that could ensure a potential situation does not escalate.

  •  Improve your understanding of how the digital world (including online gambling) works and monitor social media accounts - Do the Digital Detox together – be a positive role model.  Visit the useful links page and do some research – become an expert.
  • Visit the GP – Although both gaming and gambling disorders are now recognised as a mental illness some doctors may not experts in these areas
  • Explain the importance of managing finances and how mistakes made at an early age have such a devastating impact later on in life - explain budgeting.  Work together on finances   
  •  Put some barriers in place - limit time online time by managing devices through the broadband hub and have control over devices where possible  
  • Open a bank account that allows gambling blocks for when the youngster turns 18 - for example Monzo
  • Register with Gamstop as soon as your son/daughter turns 18 and put blocks, controls and preventative measures in place on all devices NOW
  • Register with a credit score tracking app as soon as your son/daughter turns 18 – for example Credit Monitor – this will allow you to monitor your child's credit score and track any activity such as loans on their file
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating and find hobbies and activities that do not rely on technology
  • Monitor letters that arrive - banks, loan companies etc