March 02, 2009
Impulsive Kindergarteners Become Gamblers

The road to sin and perdition begins early.

Children whose teachers rated them as more impulsive in kindergarten appear more likely to begin gambling behaviors by the sixth grade, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

What I wonder: Since gambling is a lot more accessible online has the internet increased the rate at which people become problem gamblers? I figure the internet enables all sorts of compulsive behaviors like blogging.

Although gambling has become an increasingly common activity among U.S. adults and teens, public health risks remain, the authors write as background information in the article. "Problematic gambling in adults is associated with substance use, depression and suicide, psychopathology, poor general health and a multitude of family, legal and criminal problems," the authors wrote. "Most disconcerting is that young people seem more vulnerable than adults to gambling-related morbidity [illness] and suicidality. Data suggest that in most cases, youthful recreational gambling predates pathological gambling in adulthood."

Card games are the devil's workshop. From there comes video games. Then why not video poker? Before you know it Johnnie is using his lunch money to buy Lotto tickets. A small win hooks him and before you know it he's training to win big like those professional poker players on TV.

Linda S. Pagani, Ph.D., of Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and the Université de Montréal, Canada, and colleagues studied 163 children who were in kindergarten in 1999 (average age 5.5). At the beginning of the school year, teachers were asked to complete a questionnaire rating their students' inattentiveness, distractibility and hyperactivity on a scale from one to nine (with higher values indicating a higher degree of impulsiveness). After six years, when the children were an average of 11.5 years old, they were interviewed by phone and asked whether and how often they played cards or bingo, bought lottery tickets, played video games or video poker for money or placed bets at sports venues or with friends.

After considering other behaviors that may be associated with youth gambling, including parental gambling, a one-unit increase on the kindergarten impulsivity scale corresponded to a 25-percent increase in a child's involvement in gambling in sixth grade.

Controlling for parental gambling probably causes an underestimate of the degree to which innate drives cause gambling. Impulsive parents are going to carry genes for more impulsive behavior. So the impulsive children of impulsive parents are going to have a greater tendency to gamble even if the children are adopted and raised by very unimpulsive controlled people.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 March 02 08:05 PM  Brain Addiction

HellKaiserRyo said at March 2, 2009 10:03 PM:

Maybe one of those people would become an excellent bond, currency, or commodity trader. It is essentially a form of gambling too, but it most likely has better odds in your favor if you know what the hell you are going.

Realist said at March 3, 2009 12:25 PM:

I agree, there's no need to moralize over this. I think Randal's premise is correct, but he fails to mention the testosterone factor.

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