How to prevent teenage gambling

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As online gambling becomes more widespread and fake IDs continue to run rampant, it's now easier than ever for young people to become hooked on gambling.

Experts at the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario stress that preventing teenage gambling is twofold:

  1. reduce the young person's potential to do further harm to him or herself through gambling, and
  2. inform the teen about available resources if he or she needs help.

Communication and Parental Behavior

Above all, communication is the most important way to prevent teen gambling. Parents should talk to their children about the dangers of gambling to ensure they understand the risks. Open communication about the issue, without being judgmental or critical, can help children make informed decisions.

The International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors suggests that parents also be aware of how their own gambling behaviors might influence their children. Children are more likely to gamble if their family members do so, especially if they associate gambling with being fun. Limit or eliminate gambling activities in the home and replace these activities with other types of entertainment.

Money Boundaries

Helping a child manage money effectively can also be a way to prevent gambling. Maintain clear rules about allowance, budgets or how the child spends his or her money. Limit access to credit cards as well. Helping teens understand the value of a dollar – and the risks associated with gambling hard-earned money – will make them less likely to be careless with their finances.

Abstinence

Studies have shown that abstinence-type programs are more suitable for younger children and can help teens delay their first gambling experience. For older kids, however, this type of model may have a negative effect. Unlike the "just say no" approach that is advocated for drugs, preventing problem gambling might have more to do with strengthening coping abilities and enhancing social and familial protective factors.

Source: Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario

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