Gambling, betting on the outcome of a game of chance, has been around since the dawn of mankind. Whether it be tiles, stones, dice, cards or the results in a gladiator ring, chariot race, or a bull fight, people have long wanted to profit from guessing correctly and gaining a windfall. “Legal” gambling is sanctioned in most countries through lotteries and casinos with the profits often funding hospitals, charitable causes and tourism industries. The proliferation of gambling in our society raises the question as to whether we are providing our children with the proper knowledge that they need to prevent addiction and the tools they need to make good life decisions.
According to the website GameSense, a study that spanned the globe was conducted that found that the average problem gambler became involved in related activities under the age of 10. “Kids are more likely to gamble than drink, do drugs or smoke, yet they’re far less educated on the subject.” Children see the glamour and appeal of gambling in movies and on television. These days local and international poker tournaments are regularly televised and poker and slot machine games are available on computer screens. Some advertisements even allow impressionable children and adolescents to entertain the notion that gambling professionally is a viable career option.
Parents need to talk to their children about the dangers of excessive involvement in any gambling activities. Explaining the dangers (and the slippery slope of addiction) and discussing the realities of the odds are not easy discussions to have with teens who are very concerned with their peer relations and are at the height of the risk-taking phase of their cognitive development. However, using the Internet and other teen-friendly options may be helpful. Modeling responsible behavior is another way to help guide your child to good problem solving and decision making skills.
Signs parents can look for:
-Kids who are consistently carrying cards, dice and/or lottery tickets. (Even though there is a legal age to buy these tickets, they are often simple to attain and viewed by kids as harmless fun rather than a gambling activity.)
-Kids become very interested in reading or watching sports scores.
-Items and money around the home vanish without explanation or your child asks to borrow money regularly.