4 months ago
The UK is facing a gambling epidemic and the most concerning sign is the significant increase in gambling addiction amongst the younger generation. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) released a report in 2018 which showed that 450,000 children between the ages of 11 to 16 placed bets on a regular basis.
The Young People and Gambling report suggested that there are now over 50,000 problem gamblers under the age of 18 and this number is expected to increase in 2019. While the UK has identified these concerns, there are a number of other countries that have also witnessed a significant increase in student gambling but sadly there is not enough research or data to show how serious a problem this has become.
Pre-Conditioning to Problem Gambling
There is no doubt that countries and states which have a legalized gambling industry must keep a close watch on the younger generation and do more to educate them on problem gambling signs and how to avoid them. The old adage that prevention is better than cure very much applies to gambling addiction amongst young people throughout the world.
If you look at the games kids and teenagers play, it appears the problem is created through earlier conditioning. Free access to a plethora of different online casino games and betting websites have made it easy for the younger generation to experiment with online gambling and sports betting.
The majority of children in western countries have access to the internet and either a smartphone or a tablet which they use to access games of their choice and at their will. Children end up spending hundreds of hours playing these games on a monthly basis and condition their brain to look play social games or online casino games to keep themselves entertained.
These behavior patterns grow deeper with time and force them to not only spend more time as they grow older but also pushes them to go to the next extent and that is to play real money games on a regular basis.
Gambling Operators Target Children
Gambling operators from around the world make millions of dollars each year by developing specific games for a younger audience. Games like Fortnite, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Rules of Survival and Grand Theft Auto V keep kids glued to their video screen for hours on end.
There are also numerous games that use loot boxes to get children to use fake money or play money to bet on games which make it a lot more interesting for them. There are also games which use the loot box feature to get players to spend real money and purchase special items that are found in these loot boxes.
Gambling watchdogs in countries like Belgium and Holland have stated that loot boxes are akin to gambling and have banned loot boxes in video games targeting children. However, some countries like Australia and the UK deemed that loot boxes are alright and cannot be considered gambling.
While the debate over loot boxes continues in 2019, the fact of the matter is that children are spending both time and money playing different games that border on the lines of gambling. So the question comes where does one draw the line to better protect children from being exposed to the risk of gambling addiction.
Parents Need To Take More Responsibility
While governments and gambling watchdogs around the world are waking up to the growing numbers of underage gambling addicts, there is only so much that third parties can do to protect minors. Parents need to take on more responsibility to educate, protect and prevent their children from being exposed to gambling products and services.
Most parents admit that they are not aware what their children are up to once they return from school. Children are allowed to access the internet and keep themselves busy as their parents are either at work or busy at home with multiple assignments that need to be completed.
While that is indeed the case in most homes, parents will have to step up their parenting game and get more involved in the lives of their children. Some of the ways to do this sound really simple but they will have a positive impact if you get them done.
Take Steps to Protect Your Kids
The best way to do this is for parents to have a frank conversation with their kid(s). Parents must educate their kids about the harms and risks associated with gambling. Some parents who have never indulged in gambling are not aware of these risks. It is important for them to take the time to read up on the risks and then explain them to kids.
Don’t ever thing your child is too young to understand the risks of gambling as you could be in for a surprise. Parents should also clearly outline the rules that need to be followed at home and the consequences for violating them. Since most children access online games, parents should invest in parental control software that will allow them to block their child’s access to gambling related sites and apps.
While this can come across as a harsh step, keep in mind that it is being done in the best interests of your kid(s). The parental control software will also help you monitor your child’s online activities and let you know how they are spending their time online.
Finally, if your child is showing signs of problem gambling, it is important for you to immediately get them the help that the require.
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