With the internet being open to minors, it is highly likely that kids below the age of 18 may have experienced some type of online gambling. In fact, countries like Australia, Canada and the Unites States have reported that at least 70% of their teenagers, have admitted to gambling within the past year – this encompasses both online and traditional gambling.
Is this a cause for concern? Of course, it is. Gambling may seem fun and winning makes it sweeter, but it can be the start of a mental health issue later in life which is Gambling Addiction. “Gambling Disorder is characterized by a pattern of compulsive gambling that becomes problematic and leads to the experience of negative consequences in an individual’s life.” Hailey Shafir, LPCS, LCAS, CCS-I said.
Is it possible for our teens to gamble without our knowledge?
Don’t underestimate the temptation power of teenage gambling. If you think that your child at the tender age of 15 is innocent of this addictive act, well, you’re very wrong. Studies show that kids without parental control start gambling at the age of 10. By the time they’re 15, they have done it at least once, if not more and regularly.
How can our teens be exposed to gambling?
“There is also little doubt that all of the new technologies, led by the Internet, are shaping the way we think in ways obvious and subtle, deliberate and unintentional, and advantageous and detrimental.” Jim Taylor Ph.D. said. Those card games at home even without actual money to place a bet or buying of lottery tickets – these are forms of gambling that our teenagers may take an interest in. Online gambling is also accessible. Even if they’re not 18 yet, they can always lie online so that they can play. Online games are also an avenue for our teenagers to gamble. They can use their iPhones, Android phones, iPads, tablets and PC anytime and anywhere to “play” their game.
Why is gambling fun for children and teens?
Children and teens believe that gambling is “normal” because it’s fun to do. It is exciting and the thought of getting money quick is really awesome. Imagine – a teen can win $100 in a 2-minute game! Who wouldn’t be tempted by that, right?
How can we explain to our children about the negative side of gambling?
We have to raise awareness to our children especially those who are below 18 years old about the negative effects of gambling and the addiction itself. As a parent, you can provide a very concrete example to them like celebrities who have lost their life earnings because of gambling. Better yet, If you know someone who is a gambling addict, you can also direct your teenager to that person and tell your teen that the reason why this person is having a difficult life now is because of losses in gambling. Another effective way in explaining about it is to show the odds like – a person can win the lottery one shot against 15 million. This may open his or her eyes on the “absurdity” of gambling addiction.
What are the warning signs that your teen may be into gambling?
- * Changes in handling money. Your teen may have so much which didn’t come from you or from work sources.
* Borrowing of money often
* Not sleeping well, awake until the wee hours of the morning and always tired during the day
* Low grades in school
* Isolating self from friends and other social gatherings
* Displaying a positive attitude towards traditional and online gambling
* Looking at sports odds and not watching the game itself
* Keeping it a secret
How can I help my teen if he becomes a gambling addict?
The only way to stop your teen from his or her gambling addiction is through intervention and therapy. This is not a money or a game issue. “Addiction psychology is only a primary focus. Psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral approaches, mindfulness and evidence based practices. Trusting that clients know how to steer the direction for what should be discussed in therapy.” Jeremy Frank PhD CADC, a Philadelphia Psychologist & Addiction Counselor explains. It is a behavioral and mental disorder problem. If all else fails, submitting your teen to cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy or gambling addiction therapy with the assistance of mental health professionals, whether he or she likes it or not, will begin his or her healing and treatment. It will not be easy but it has to be done.