EARLY YEARS - Recognising the signs


The Warning Signs

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.  

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 - Early Years

  • 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 - Early Years

If you think that a youngster in your family may be at risk of developing a gaming addiction then there are a series of measures that you can put in place.  

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

  • Do not fall into the trap that it’s just what children do – as parents/carers be ‘on the same page’ as one another and do not be allowed to be played off against one another
  • Go to the - Early Years, Preparing for 18, Off to University and Over 18 sections on the website.  Visit the Useful Links page - see what help is out there - become the expert
  • Visit the GP –  Although both gaming/gambling addictions are now recognised as a mental disorders some doctors may not be experts in these areas - families can self refer to NHS Gaming and Gambling Clinics
  • Arrange a meeting at school. Have an open and honest conversation.  Schools are investing heavily in mental health and can arrange or direct you to the most appropriate support services
  • Take an active interest in school work and create a learning environment at home - find activities and hobbies that create a life away from the screen - be part of it 
  • Become the expert – research the game your child is playing  - does the game have loot boxes?
  • Put barriers in place/take control – family set up/screen time (go to the 'parental guides' for further details)
  • Turn off in-app purchases on games and make sure credit/debit card isn’t attached to the console they are playing on (keep your credit/debit cards safe - use a prepaid debit card.  For example Monzo, Go Henry or Nimbl
  • Have a discussion about loot boxes/skins betting. Most games can still be played and completed without using loot boxes - console versions