"Predicting Gambling Behavior From Sixth Grade to Kindergarten Impulsivity: A Tale of Developmental Continuity," is a mouthful. It's also a new report in the Archives of Pediatrics And Adolescent Medicine that links restless elementary school kids to adult gambling problems later in life:
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…
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.
Maybe there's something to this study, but it seems like a real stretch. Apart from report's hints that gambling is a life-long addiction, the students' dispositions were first marked up like a report card:
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.
The Annoying Little Brat rating system seems arbitrary and a bit unsettling, seeing that it could be used simply to describe "problem children" as well as providing "evidence" for anti-gambling advocates.
But the dangerous correlation between games of chance and restlessness should not be downplayed.
See, the Winkler Family Patriarch loved to trick his spawn into playing "the quiet game." If the child could sit silent and still for a certain period of time, then he/she got little chocolate bars as winnings. A loss meant the old man had found someone to shave his back, and as the years progressed, the stakes got higher. The patriarch always gave 3-1 odds. And the house always won.
Less weird is this interesting cultural history of America's fascination with chance.