Gambling? Not MY Child!

Monday, August 17, 2015

by Doug LaBelle, LCSW, CEAP, NCGC II
Resources for Change, Ltd.

Lottery tickets can't be sold to anyone under 18 - right?  Well, MY Child is under 18!
Casinos can't allow anyone under 21 to gamble - right?  Well, MY Child is under 21!
Online gambling is not allowed for anyone under 21- right?  Well, MY Child is under 21!
So, MY Child can't gamble - RIGHT ? !

By definition, gambling involves the betting of money or something of value with the possibility/hope/expectation to gain more money or more things of value.

While many parents truly believe that gambling is an adult activity and that their children just don't gamble, facts and realities provide a different picture.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes gambling as a problem among children and has produced a pamphlet about this issue titled "Gambling: Not a Safe Thrill."

Teen gambling seldom involves casinos or race tracks.  Rather, teen gambling can involve:

  • Poker, other card games and dice in basements and other hangouts
  • Betting on sporting events of all kinds
  • Lottery tickets including Scratch Offs
  • Games of "skill" including video games and other types of online games
  • Online gambling including poker, keno, slots, etc.

Research has shown that gambling most commonly begins around the age of 14 and that by 19, 78% of teens are gambling in some form.  In addition, problem gambling increases consistently during teen years going from 1.3% of teens ages 14-15 to 3.4% of teens ages 18-19.

In fact, National U.S. surveys have consistently shown that gambling involvement increases throughout the teenage years, becomes prevalent at a much earlier age than drinking and that more teens gamble than drink.

While most parents are aware that their teens are online and involved with Social Media, the reality of this involvement is somewhat amazing - 92% of teens report going online daily - including 24% who say they go online "almost constantly," according to a new study from Pew Research Center.

While most of this online activity does not involve gambling, it can be a risk factor for teenage gambling.

Recent studies show that simulated gambling is common among teens and can include various online games such as Grand Theft Auto V, Pokemon, Zynga Poker and Slotomania.

Research has also shown that monthly use of online gambling sites increased for both high school age male students (2.7% in 2008 to 6.2% in 2010) and college age male students (4.4 % in 2008 to 16% in 2010).

Other risk factors include having parents with gambling problems, an earlier age of first gambling activity, greater impulsivity and various maladaptive coping strategies.

Parents can play a vital role in reducing some of the risk factors associated with teen problem gambling by using standard, yet important, parenting techniques.  These include maintaining an appropriate level of parental monitoring of teen activity and behavior, including financial and online behavior, and consistently setting and holding to limits and boundaries.

Kids do gamble and parents can do something about it - Be Caring, Supportive and Informed Parents about Gambling and Your Child!

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