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Gambling addiction leads to aggressive behavior, anxiety and depression in Australian children

Research from a Macquarie University study found that too much video gaming can have a serious impact on the behavior of children and teens.

Developmental Psychologist, Associate Professor Wayne Warburton warns that in extreme cases, addiction can lead to absence from school and aggressive behavior towards family members.

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While adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 were most vulnerable to developing Internet gaming disorder (IGD), young elementary-aged children were also at risk of becoming an at-risk cohort.

A 2015 US study found that children aged 13 to 18 spent an average of six hours and 40 minutes a day using recreational screens.

In 2019, this age group spent seven hours and 22 minutes.

But the pandemic then sent screen time into a “perfect storm” and by 2021 it had risen to eight hours and 39 minutes a day.

Warburton believes the numbers have seen a similar increase in Australia.

He also revealed that although teenagers were considered the group most at risk for IGD, there are now indications that elementary school students are also at risk of developing gambling addiction.

Parents and guardians are advised to look for warning signs in their children, including spending more time in their bedroom, lowering school grades, missing important activities, giving up hobbies they used to love, lying and spend time playing, and less attention. on maintaining friendships.

“At the extreme, you see children who are locked in their rooms, who rarely go out and are not in school”, said Warburton. “They often start to develop anxiety and depression; they are afraid to leave their room and face the real world.

Warburton with colleagues at Macquarie University, Professor Maria Kangas and Brad Marshallpublished a series of case studies of children aged 11-13 who were addicted to games, including Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, Call of DutyWhere Counter Strike: Global Offensive, or to smart phones, social media, YouTube or streaming TV.

“Anyone can become addicted to screens, but my research shows that children are more at risk if they have impulse control issues and if their basic needs, such as self-esteem, to be included, to feel good about things and have control, are satisfied better online than offline,” said Warburton.

For parents concerned about their child’s screen usage, they can start by establishing a family media plan.

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