Proliferations of gambling opportunities and their increased promotion have engrossed numerous young players across the globe. The driving force behind these trends is online technology and almost universal access to the internet.
It has made gambling more approachable, and offers an on-demand and immersive experience. This novelty digital environment engulfs young minds and makes them susceptible to developing a serious gambling problem. The effect on social and emotional life can be devastating and spill over into all other areas.
An elusive and cunning menace
In the digital age, young people are exposed to gambling more than ever before. In some countries, Gambling is regarded alongside drug addiction, smoking, and drinking. Moreover, all these behaviors are often mutually reinforcing.
So, what is the catch? Well, among other things, casinos and other operators ride on the tide of interactive digital media. While gambling has been gamified, video games embrace gamble-like design. There is, for instance, a loot box controversy happening as we speak – a problem that has occurred in some famed video games. Most people agree that this is indeed a form of gambling and that it should be regulated as such.
Here we see how gambling finds a way to creep into lives of young people, sometimes disguised as something else. Yet, operators do not even have to employ exploitative and predatory practice in order to lure an army of eager players. One of the main draws of gambling is the promise of great rewards and the risk that looms over as you let the chips fall where they may. Alas, “hot streaks” never last long and sooner or later, problems come knocking at the door.
PlayOJO’s research on underage gambling has shed some light on the scope of the issue. It has revealed that more than 450,000 children gamble in the UK. In many other countries, this is one of the most vulnerable populations, despite the fact that its members are legally obliged to provide an ID as proof of their age. The sad truth is that not all online casinos are committed to preventing underage gambling and fail to adhere to relevant laws as well as their own terms and conditions.
Psychological workings on an under-aged gamblers mind.
On a pathological level, a gambling problem is easier to spot, but even benign forms of gambling such as lotto or card games can lead to developing addiction. The great difficulty for parents is that unlike things like drug addiction, gambling addiction works in a clandestine fashion. There are no physical warnings, at least not at first. So, how does one go about recognizing gambling trouble? Well, a lot of money going down the drain can be a telltale sign. There are also some dire consequences of underage gambling you should acknowledge…
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Let us first take into account the psychological implications. We know that some people are more likely to become addicted, such as those who have trouble controlling impulses or a diagnosed ADHD. They are, however, not the only ones who find thrill in taking risks and so-called “living on the edge”. This kind of lifestyle is the cause of depression, sleeping problems, suicidal thoughts, uncontrollable anger, stress, etc.
Youngsters often struggle to properly deal with loses and tend to overcompensate by throwing even bigger money on games of chance. This way, gambling encourages reckless and irresponsible behavior and inhibits the ability to properly assess risks and consequences. Since gambling is mostly illegal, under-aged gamblers are not keen on seeking professional help either.
Another thing to consider is that the things that teens used to enjoy now are seen as tedious and boring; Instead, gambling acts as a gateway to other high-risk activities, and more adult activities that may be deemed of more interest and appeal to a younger generation.
This brings us to the point: gambling addiction in teens is a red flag that could signal that there are some other, potentially bigger underlying problems in the life of a young person.
For instance, gambling is proven to disrupt family relationships. Parents are unable to fully understand the problem and come up with an effective solution. Kids, on the other hand, look down on adult interference and are too far gone into the addiction territory. This creates a big communication gap that cannot be easily bridged. Yet, doing so and offering maximum support is the key to helping youngsters get out of the gambling pitfall.
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Furthermore, it has been proven that younger generations are more inclined to gamble in a harmful manner. Serious gambling habits increase the chances of missing school, low grades, or dropping out. Hence, they undermine the future development, academic life, and career success. One even greater menace looms: studies have shown that youths involved in gambling are more prone to drug and alcohol abuse. Moreover, it increases the likelihood of engaging in criminal activity, unsafe sex, and violence.
The adult world, policy-makers, community organizations, and educational institution have still not formulated a response to these worrisome trends. This is unacceptable as there is much we can do to turn the tide. The first step is raising awareness of dangers, thrills, temptations, and risks that gambling entails. This should help everyone in contact with youth to improve messages, attitude, and mentoring given to them.
Challenge and opportunities
Youth gambling is on the roll and it is a big deal. We must all come to grips with the new reality in which opportunities to gamble are everywhere. They are cheap, and accessible to all. Young people unaware of risks and dangers can get easily sucked in, while parents and other adults fail to detect and respond.
It is clear that gambling is the cause and harbinger, but also the product of other problems in life. It increases the chance of youngsters succumbing to other risk-taking activities or suffering from psychological and behavioral issues. At one point, they lose interest in school, family, and friends, sinking deeper into the void.
A holistic approach to treating the addiction is the best way to go. We need to create a better and safer environment for children to grow and thrive in. We need to educate them with the respect they deserve, treat them like adults, explain why gambling is fun, why it’s addictive and why you could end up in a whole heap of trouble if you do get addicted, and when they do decide to roll the dice, they should do it in a responsible manner.
Do you have a son or daughter you are worried about? To understand the severity of your situation, take this nine question quiz. It is empirically supported by the American Psychiatric Association and will help you learn more about whether you have cause for concern.