The Connection Between Online Gaming and Youth Gambling

More parents are noticing charges on their bank statements due to gaming purchases by their children.

According to CNBC, many parents were unaware of these purchases and were shocked to see their monthly bill increase hundreds and thousands of dollars higher than usual. One child spent $2,600 on the game “Tap Pet Hotel” and the parents sued companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google. In the complaints, parents said that they were not warned that their child could make purchases without a password requirement.

Many video games and apps targeting children copy the look, sounds, and actions of actual gambling. Through these games, gambling behaviors could be hiding in plain sight, leading to lifelong issues for young people exposed to them.

How does an innocent child’s game copy gambling?

  • Loot boxes and spin-to-win rewards replicate real-life gambling experiences by building competition among online friends and allowing players to earn fake money or other prizes.
  • Games offer opportunities for login rewards with instant upgrades, creating an everyday gaming habit.
  • Innocent-looking games with shiny little rewards may seem harmless, but those rewards can quickly become addicting.

If this sounds familiar to you as a parent, there are tools you can manage your child’s gaming time.

  • Set an amount of video/online game time per day or week. Help your child establish the time limits and hold them accountable to it.
  • See if your router can disable itself during certain times. It can help limit your child’s late-night gaming sessions.
  • Encourage your child to engage in new or different activities like playing sports, learning an instrument, or reading a book. Exploring new hobbies can help keep your child’s mind off gaming.

For more information and ways you can get involved in the prevention of youth gambling, please visit ChangeTheGameOhio.Org.


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Young children can buy items in video games, like loot boxes, without knowing they’re using real money or being exposed to gambling behaviors. That can have serious consequences, like this mom who was charged for $16,000 of in-app purchases. Read more: https://bit.ly/3QdI2Zs

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