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Reduce children excessive gaming and links to future gambling harm with Kids Thrive program

International research highlights alarming trends: 10-year-olds gambling, 40% of NSW 12-17 year-olds in potentially harmful gaming. Kids Thrive program, The Bridge, tackles this issue, but Australia hasn't taken action yet.

By news@gippsland - 9th November 2023 - Back to News

Multi award winning arts and community organisation Kids Thrive delivers The Bridge - a free early intervention program for upper primary schools to reduce children's excessive online gaming and disrupt the potential links to future gambling harm. Gambling causes significant harm across Australia. Alarmingly - international research shows that kids as young as ten are already gambling, and over 40 percent of NSW children aged 12 to 17 are playing video games and apps with features that look and feel like gambling (NSW Office of Responsible Gambling).

Kids Thrive artists collaborate with experts to create The Bridge gaming awareness program, offering teachers user-friendly materials and an intuitive structure

Kids Thrive artists collaborate with experts to create The Bridge gaming awareness program, offering teachers user-friendly materials and an intuitive structure

Gaming and gambling

This growing body of evidence linking excessive online gaming with future gambling harm, has seen an increasing number of countries cracking down on video games that researchers fear connect children with gambling. At this point, Australia isn't one of them. Kids Thrive has delivered The Bridge to the Victorian Government for use in primary schools across Victoria, with students, teachers and parents embracing the program thus far.

A young student and co-designer at Altona North Primary School observed that gaming elements are "tricks computer games play behind our backs". Others noted that gaming makes them feel excited, challenged and engaged but also anxious and irritable. Fights with friends and family as a result of gaming were common. The Bridge teaches young people why they are feeling this way and supports them to develop positive approaches for change.

Child gaming awareness

Dr Andrea Lemon, CEO of Kids Thrive said, "We believe it is paramount to give children a voice about both the joys and challenges of online gaming, including developing personal strategies to manage their gaming thereby disrupting the links between gaming and gambling.

"Our creative social change team has spent the past three years working on the ground with children in schools, gaming experts and gambling harm counsellors to design a targeted primary prevention program for upper primary students. Gaming is a lot of fun, and we respect that, but we also have a responsibility to raise young children's awareness of the risks and ways to manage these risks.

This way they can make informed choices about what they do with their time and money, and not risk losing what they love, their relationships and health". "Since The Bridge, I don't get as angry and I make a schedule for when to play. Now I play outside more and my screentime is down." Jamal, aged 12.

Child gambling impact

CEO of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, Dr Chris Duncan. The Guardian, 4 Oct 2023 said, "Addiction to gambling is affecting children's ability to learn and concentrate at school during a critical time in their brain development. (And) many video games verge on gambling in terms of the noises and the kind of rewards in the game, it's a process of normalisation or conditioning at work."

Loot boxes in video games are "pretty much a gambling product, but they are still not treated as such." Prof Alex Russell, Principal Research Fellow, CQ University's experimental gambling research laboratory. The Guardian 4 Oct, 2023. The Bridge is available for free for schools online visit Kids Thrive Hub website.

Pictures from Kids Thrive website.


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