You’ve read all the parenting books, done your best to create a safe and loving environment for your teen, and tried everything in your power to provide alternatives to the online world kids are immersed in these days. You control their online time and make sure all the games they play are kid-friendly. But no matter how hard parents the world over try, 28% of fantasy sports players between 13 and 15 are at risk of problem gambling. That’s at least one in four kids!
How can you protect your children from developing a gambling addiction? Well, you can start by reading this article of tips for helping your kids develop healthy online and offline habits.
How do kids get addicted to gambling in the first place? Well, it can start with something as simple as buying a pack of cards and playing poker with friends. If they’re into video games, they might begin betting on match outcomes. Keep an eye out for any of the following telltale indicators that your child might be developing a gambling problem:
● They’re always asking for money and seem to have less of it as time goes on.
● They’re more interested in gambling than other activities they used to enjoy.
● They’re secretive about their gambling.
● They get irritable or anxious when they can’t gamble.
● They lie about how much money they’ve won or lost.
If you spot any of these addiction warning signs in your child, it’s essential to talk to them about it as soon as possible. Let them know you’re there to help and support them, but be firm and make it clear that gambling is not something you’ll tolerate.
The best way to prevent gambling problems in children (and most adults) is to educate them about how it works and the danger it poses. Even if there’s nothing to indicate that your child might have a problem, they can’t protect themselves against something they know nothing about. Have a sit down with your kid from time to time, keep the lines of communication open and make sure they know that you’re there to support them.
If you’re not sure what to talk about, here are some topics you might cover: Explain to your kids how improbable winning the lottery is; for instance, the chance of winning a large jackpot is far worse than being struck by lightning. And the odds of that happening in a year are 1 to 500,000.
Another option is to discuss the commercial aspect of gaming. Casinos in Las Vegas, for example, have to make more money than they pay out to remain open. Gambling businesses are profitable even when gamblers lose bets – in fact, they’re counting on it.
Children and teenagers should have consistent rules about screen time and internet use. For example, no screens at bedtime or when they’re doing homework.
Also, make sure they use their online time adequately for educational purposes. For example, many schools now offer free or discounted software that allows children to complete their schoolwork online.
It’s also crucial for parents to monitor the games their children are playing. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) provides age-appropriate ratings for video games, and it’s a good idea to check those ratings before buying a game for your child. On top of this, some apps allow you to block access to gambling websites on your children’s devices.
By keeping a tab on their spending, you can ensure that your children are not gambling, especially with money they cannot afford to lose. If you notice any changes in your child’s behavior or they start asking for money more often, it might signify that they are developing a gambling addiction.
Be very clear with your child that gambling is never just a game – the money and mental health at stake are very real. It’s vital for children to understand that gambling is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly.
Most kids stumble into gambling and other vices because they can’t cope with problems in their daily lives. As a parent, you should teach them how to deal with difficult situations and emotions more effectively. Some of the coping mechanisms you might want to introduce to them include relaxation techniques, positive self-talk, and problem-solving skills. If you feel underequipped to provide adequate information, there are many excellent child therapists out there you can schedule an appointment with.
Unfortunately, their school and home lives are the primary source of stress for children. However, this is also a blessing in disguise, as you can control your behavior towards them and make sure it’s a source of comfort and support, instead of something they fear or wish to avoid.
Encourage them to develop a healthy lifestyle, including exercise and outdoor activities, to minimize stress buildup and help them relieve it. Finally, just spend time with your little ones. The more they feel connected to you, the less likely they will be to seek comfort in gambling or any other ill-advised activity.
Kids learn by observing their parents. If you gamble, they will be more likely to follow your example, no matter what your attitude towards that vice is. Make sure you create a gamble-free environment for your child to grow up in.
Even the language you are using can significantly impact young impressionable minds. If you often talk about winning and losing or make bets with your kids, especially if the rewards are significant, they might get the wrong idea and think that gambling is a game or a useful way to motivate themselves. It’s essential to be mindful of the words you use when talking about gambling around your kids, even if they’re not old enough to understand what it means just yet.
Gambling addiction is a real problem, and it can affect anyone – even children. By following the tips we brought together, you can keep your child safe from this dangerous addiction. Remember, the best way to prevent gambling addiction is to educate yourself and your children about the dangers of gambling. Make sure you talk openly about the risks involved and provide support if your child develops a gambling problem.