Online games, gambling and how to prevent

Football for All in Vietnam (FFAV) addresses a number of social issues and problems, and these issues are often addressed in our various activities. We call them Life Skills games and competitions, and try to integrate this in all football activities in a natural way.

An area that FFAV not directly address, is the problems created by excessive gaming on the internet and gambling. Here are a few tips for children, youth, parents and teachers, to know more and understand better the problems which can arise from this.

 

ONLINE GAMES

In the last years the number of parents and teachers expressing concern over time the sometimes extensive time children and youth spend on online games have increased. Government has also issued warnings and expressed concern over this development. Uncertainty about where to draw the line on daily online gaming is causing many worries. In some cases the gaming comes totally out of control, and in very serious cases professional personnel like physiatrists and psychiatrics must be consulted. Parents and teachers might also need consultancy from such professional personnel.

 

COMPUTERGAMES – A PART OF THE YOUTHS EVERYDAY LIFE

Today computer games is a natural part of children and youth media daily life, it provides entertainment, excitement, social skills and important knowledge. This represents a challenge for the young people of today that their parents does not have any experience themselves, in terms of deciding where to draw clear lines on how many hours, how late at night etc. For some children and youth the gaming will become an overwhelming activity, and could lead to negative consequences in performance at school, loss of social networks and conflicts within the family.

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Image source: wikihow.com

 WARNING SIGNALS AND CONSEQUENCES OF ECESSIVE GAMING

  • Irritation, restlessness and bad temper
  • Excessive absence from school or work, or drop out from school/quit work
  • Breaking up family traditions, rituals, habits
  • Quarreling and verbal aggression in the families, loss of parents authority
  • Physical bothers due to lack of sleep, poor blood circulation, loss of weight, poor personal hygiene, lose interest in personal appearance
  • Increasing time spent on gaming to achieve the same level of excitement
  • Loss of social networks (friends)
  • Poorer social competence
  • Less interest for interaction with other people

In talks with children and youth on this topic, it is recommended not to use the term addiction, as it is escalating the conflict level. Try also not only to see the negative sides, but accept that there are positive effects too.

SOME USEFUL TIPS FOR PARENTS

  • It is easy to be hooked on gaming, so a regime of “gaming time” is an important action to avoid conflicts. It varies from family to family how much time each child or youth are allowed for time on the computer, but in general 1 to 2 hours per weekday should be a limit. More time should be allowed in the weekends.
  • The computer should be placed in a public or open room, not in the private room of the child.
  • Do not use gaming time as reward for the child or as a form of child care/”Babysitter”.
  • Engage yourself in what games your child is playing, try to learn a little on how to play it. Let the child be your guide or teacher on how to play the game.
  • “All others are allowed” is a sentence that all parents will hear from the child. If this argument is brought up, consult other parents, listen to how they solve the problem.
  • When games have age limits, it is for a reason. Be strict on this.
  • Make agreements with the children, and include them in the process of setting limits/making rules. This makes the child accountable in terms of such agreements. This can for example concern the time allowed for gaming. Should it be 1 hour per weekday, and 2 hours during the weekend etc.?
  • It is important that children and youth are engaged in other activities in addition to the gaming. Especially physical activities.
  • Shores and homework should always be done before gaming is allowed.

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Image source: wikihow.com

GAMBLING ADDICTION

Gambling addiction is when the gambler no longer have control over the gambling. The gambling dominates the life when it comes to thoughts, feelings and behavior. For some, gambling is the first thought you have when you wake up and before you go to sleep.

The gambling often have large consequences for both the gambler and his/her surroundings/family, as most will have a huge problem admitting that they actually do have a problem with gambling. Most people will try to hide it, and deny it.

Support groups exists, and meeting others with the same problem can help. It is difficult to get out of this addiction, keeping self-respect and keeping the family together. To break out of the addiction, the situation must be understood, accepted and admitted. The gambler him/herself must take this choice.

Be open about your problem to your nearest. Often the family and near friends know that you have a problem, and have been waiting for you to come forward and admit it. It is possible to get out of this difficult situation with your self-respect and family intact.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your gambling affect your family, your work, your social obligations and other activities?
  • Are you more occupied by gambling that you and others are comfortable with?
  • Have you ever felt the urge to gamble for more and more money?
  • Have you ever lied to people who are important in your life about how much you actually spend on gambling?
  • Do you believe or think that it is only a question about time before you actually will win, and therefore don’t want to miss out of the chance?

Do you recognize any of these questions? This is a clear indication that you have or are developing a gambling addiction. If so, seek help, there are many who have it just like you, regardless of age, gender, position and work. There is help to be found.

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Image source: nydailynews.com

FOR RELATIVES AND NEXT OF KIN

It is often the relatives how first understand that there is something wrong, and understand there is a problem. The exposure happens often in connections with crises related to family economy, or with warnings from employer or even being sacked from work.

The addicted gambler often experience depression then exposed, and thought of suicide can occur as a possible desperate “solution”.

It also is a risk that you as a relative becomes an accomplice in the gambling. This means that you adjust or adapt to the life of the addicted gambler and trying your best to protect him/her. It is understandable to try to help your closest, but this kind of “help” results in continued gambling and represents no way out of the addiction. It will just allow the gambler to continue.

By «protecting» the gambler because you do not reduce the negative effects of the gambling, and thereby increase the risk of continued gambling.

These are some of the effects relatives experience:

  • Loss of social networks
  • The gambler spends more and more time on trying to hide the problem from relatives and friends
  • Serious financial problems occur.
  • Money that was meant for presents, holidays etc. are suddenly not there anymore.
  • Money meant for spare time activities, for both the gambler and his/her family, are gone
  • The gambler loses his/her job, sometime because of embezzlement
  • Illegitimate absence from work
  • Lies and breach of trust
  • Conflicts and broken marriages/relationships
  • Fear for others reactions when addiction is exposed
  • In many case the addicted gambler will never admit to the problem, leading to an endless fight for relatives to just hold out.
  • Parents fear of their own children’s possible addiction
  • Parents feel inadequate and as failures as parents if their children develop addiction.
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