A new study published in the journal Addiction found that young boys who are overly impulsive in their developing years are more likely to become gambling addicts later in life. This means boys in first grade with increased impulsive behaviour are two times as likely to develop gambling problems when they hit adulthood.
The researchers tracked 310 boys in Baltimore Maryland. Each boy was observed and his tendency to make rush decisions, consider consequences, blurt out answers and interrupt was tracked. The researchers came back for yearly follow up evaluations with the boys when they were between 11 and 15. This showed that 41% of the boys who were overly impulsive in the beginning of the study became more impulsive or maintained their bad behaviour. When it came to gambling, 67% of the impulsive boys participated in some form of gambling while 20% showed signs of risky gambling behaviours and 9% became problem gamblers. "Our findings reveal that there is a considerable link between youth impulsivity in the younger years and gambling issues as older teens," said Silvia Martins, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, in a press release. "This has important implications and provides clear research support for targeting impulsivity to prevent youth problem gambling." This is a very troubling study as the number of problem gamblers in the UK is on the rise. Now nearly 1% of the UK has a gambling problem. The numbers are especially bad for young teens. 2% of 12-15 year olds are addicted to gambling. Part of the problem may be the increase in gambling venues. There are more fixed odds betting terminals popping up all over the UK and people can lose up to £100 every 20 seconds. More betting shops are springing up as well and they are especially prominent in low income areas. Most importantly, internet gambling allows people to feed their addiction from the comfort of their own home or on their mobile phone. This makes gambling more accessible and has allowed younger and younger generations to take part. This makes it very important for parents to keep track of what their children are doing online and talk with them about gambling. The more educated someone is on the dangers of gambling, the less likely they are to become an addict.