Have you noticed just how much advertising for gambling there is on TV? If it isn't Wesley Sneijder promoting a Dutch gambling company, it is someone else encouraging you to bet on this or that. The emphasis is always on the big prize you just might win. And surely you aren't going to pass up a chance like this? As far as I'm concerned, all advertising that encourages gambling can be taken off our TV screens.
I'd be happy if the government banned these adverts. Not entirely because I find them generally irritating, but for the same reason that adverts for alcohol can't be broadcast before nine o'clock in the evening: evidently, we don't want to expose our young people to them. Not so, adverts for gambling and since October 1st ten providers are legally entitled to offer online gambling. But you would have thought, wouldn't you, that we don't want to be promoting this to our young people any more than we do alcohol? I'm pleased to see that some of our members of parliament are keen to bring in restrictions governing these adverts.
I cannot answer the question, 'How many of our students succumb to online gambling?' But excessive gaming is a problem we are seeing increasingly among students. For treatment and guidance, we refer these students to their family doctor and to Novadic Kentron.
A while back, a prevention officer from Novadic Kentron gave a workshop at TU/e on gaming and internet addiction and (problematic) substance use. He was convinced that as academic advisors, we were unaware of even the tip of the iceberg among our student population. And why? Because it's an issue we almost never ask about! Since then I've included a relevant question in my list of questions for students.
The workshop has also caused me to look differently at alcohol consumption. We all find it completely normal that alcohol is available on campus, everywhere and all the time. During exam week, I was having lunch with a colleague in Hubble. So it was early afternoon and yet a number of students were already enjoying a drink. 'Do we need to be serving beer this early in the afternoon?' I wondered. We might be in a community cafe, but we are still on the university campus, aren't we?
Personally, I wouldn't find it odd, if alcohol has to be served, if the tap were opened later in the day; at, say, five in the afternoon. Why not? Do we really want to encourage students and employees to drink alcohol and to start drinking so early in the day? Isn't it common knowledge that the very brains to which alcohol is very harmful are young brains, which continue growing until about the twenty-fifth year of life?
We talk a great deal about student well-being, but to my mind we cannot pay too much attention to the relationship between alcohol consumption and substance use, on the one hand, and well-being on the other. Symptoms such as stress, depression and anxiety can be sustained or exacerbated by alcohol consumption and substance use. A healthy lifestyle could be the first step towards good mental health.
So my question is this: why as an educational institution would you facilitate alcohol consumption among students? After all, we don't have a coffeeshop on the campus where students can buy weed, do we?