Gambling, Gaming, & Screen Time

Gambling, gaming, texting, twitting, surfing the net, and Facebook interaction could all potentially lead to process/cyber addictions. Gambling is any game of chance that involves risking money or something else of value. Gaming includes video games, online gaming and live video interactive gaming. Screen Time includes gaming and gambling on line, surfing the net, MSN chatting,  Facebook or other social networks, texting, twitting,  etc.

 

Are my gambling/screen time activities Normal?

Gambling/Gaming/Internet/Texting are now a big part of our everyday lives. Many of us use it for work and school related activities as well as for maintaining relationships with friends, keeping in touch with the world, learning, and entertainment. Like adults, youth may gamble for enjoyment, excitement or to win money.

 

Should I be Worried?

While the vast majority of adults and youth game or gamble and spend time online, there are some for whom this becomes an excessive activity. At other times youth ,like adults, use gambling and other online activity as a way to cope with stress or other negative feelings. Gambling/gaming/screen time becomes problematic when a person spends so much time doing it that it begins to have negative consequences in their social life, school life, personal relationships, and in some cases, starts to affect their mood, personality, physical and mental health.

Some signs that your (or a friend’s) activity might be becoming a problem are:

  • You are doing the activity for increasing amounts of time and frequency (e. g. for hours, every day)
  • An increasing amount of money is being spent on the activity
  • The activity is keeping you from spending time with friends and family
  • Being secretive about the amount of time spent gambling/gaming
  • Changes in mood
  • Lashing out at friends and/or family members
  • Bragging about when you win money gambling but not talking about the losses.
  • Missing classes at school
  • Falling grades
  • Staying up all night

 

If you can identify with some of the signs above, you should speak to someone: a parent, teacher, school counselor etc. to explore ways to keep your activity safe and healthy.

 

Tips for Prevention and Wellness

1.) Think of cyber activities as a form of entertainment  and try to balance these activities with school work and other healthy activities in your life.

2.) Trying to cope with or avoid negative feelings and situations through gaming or other cyber activities can become problematic and lead to more negative consequences.

3.) Talk to someone you trust at home or at school or in your community, if you are concerned about your gambling/gaming and other online activity. Ask about resources in your community that can provide help.

4.) Take your friends, family and teachers seriously if they express concern over your activity. They might be seeing something that you don’t.

5.) Make a decision around how much time and/or money you will spend doing the activity and stick with it.

6.) No one can accurately predict who will develop a problem, or when it will develop, but we do know that frequency and time spent doing the activity does increase the risk of your activity becoming problematic.

 

Generally, it is a good idea to be aware of how much “screen time” you are spending and to set limits for yourself so that it does not become a problem for you.

 

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