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


  • Excessive use of devices and lying about the amount of time spent online and isolated behaviour
  • 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 not taking pride in appearance
  • Compulsive eating and not eating healthily
  • Impatient and not prepared to wait - nothing is ever good enough 
  • Becoming disengaged with family life
  • Obsessive behaviour
  • Dishonesty - telling lies/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.

  • Open a bank account that has gambling blocks enabled – have shared access
  • Register with Gamstop when child turns 18  
  • Set up parental controls on all devices (visit,uk) – register with Gamban
  • Self-exclude from high street betting/casino shops (multiple areas)
  • Register with a credit reference agency – 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
  • Monitor letters that arrive  - banks, loans etc
  • Monitor activity on social media
  • Visit the GP – Although both gaming/gambling addictions are now recognised as a mental disorder some doctors may not be experts in these areas –  families can self refer to NHS Gaming and Gambling Clinics
  • Attend a Gambler’s Anonymous (GA) or GamAnon (for the family) meeting