Now is the Time to Talk With Your Kids About Preventing Youth Gambling
With the continual hustle and bustle of daily life, it can sometimes be surprisingly hard to find the time to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with your child. That’s why Communicate With Your Kids Month, taking place this October, is such a great reminder to talk about the dangers of youth gambling with the kids in your life.
Approximately 14.7% of youth ages 12 to 17 have gambled money or personal items, and between 60 and 80% of high school students report having gambled money during the past year. But 66% of parents have never talked to their kids about gambling, even while their kids are being exposed to it daily at school and online.
Some of the warning signs of teen and youth gambling include unexplained school absences, unusual interest in sports scores, borrowing or stealing money, sudden drops in grades, or using gambling terminology like “bet” without explanation.
Whether your child is showing some of those warning signs or you want to educate them just in case, here are some tips to start a conversation about youth gambling:
- Plan ahead so you can have “the talk” in a place that’s comfortable and familiar to you and your child, like at the dinner table after dessert or while you’re taking an after-school walk together.
- Educate yourself on the topic of youth gambling before the conversation by accessing the resources on Change the Game Ohio’s website, which include discussion guides, fact sheets about the dangers of youth gambling, and quick pointers on common gaming slang.
- Bring up the topic of gambling in a way that’s direct and meets your child where they are. For instance, if your child regularly plays online games, explaining how buying loot boxes or chasing after character skins can simulate gambling behaviors can be a starting point for a larger conversation about the dangers of other forms of youth gambling.
- Many children are exposed to gambling behaviors without knowing the risks or even realizing that what they are doing is gambling, so try to keep the tone conversational, informational, and non-judgmental.
- Explain the risks of gaming addiction and gambling clearly. Tell them how gambling results in losses more often than wins, and that underage gambling is illegal.
- Talk about the risks of youth gambling and how even small amounts of gambling as a child can lead to a problem with gambling later in life. Problem gambling has very real consequences that include depression, financial problems, low self-esteem, lower grades, and losing friends.
- Every child has had a different experience, so be sure to pause often to let your child ask questions and ask them along the way about their experiences with youth gambling.
- After the conversation, set limits with your child on the time they spend gaming and check in with them frequently about their gaming habits.
To help reinforce the message, you can also print out resources from Change the Game Ohio for your child to read, which include youth gambling fact sheets, time management and media literacy tools, and education about the common warning signs of youth gambling for kids to look for in their friends.
Are you an educator? Change the Game Ohio also offers discussion guides and informational handouts for you to start a conversation or set policies about youth gambling in your classroom or school. Access these resources, take a quiz to find out your knowledge of youth gambling, and more at ChangetheGameOhio.org.