How to protect your child from gambling?

Magda Olbea

Casino expert

How to protect your child from gambling?

Although minor gambling is prohibited in Canada, statistics show that more and more teens are subjected to games of luck. See their impact and what to do!

Teenage gambling statistics – An expert study

After conducting a recent study on child behaviour, Canadian researchers have drawn the following conclusions:

  • Children are influenced by family members that gamble (e.g., receiving lottery or scratch tickets as gifts, playing cards for money);
  • Underage gambling was found in children as young as 9 or 10 years old;
  • As  they get older, teenagers will engage in gambling activities with their friends or classmates;
  • Boys are more likely to develop addictive gambling behavior.

According to The Recovery Village, this is the impact and effects of teenage gambling :

gambling statistics

Protect your child from gambling with our guide!

With this in mind, you’re probably wondering how to protect your kid from underage gambling.

Don’t worry! Our team of specialists has been thoroughly researching this topic, aiming to help you identify problem gambling behaviour and prevent it by using communication and tools that can block specific content from being shown to your infant.

What are the most common types of gambling amongst children?

types of gambling amongst children

As a parent, you should know that games of chance are not the only activity that can influence your children’s behaviour towards gambling.

Let’s have a look at the most common reasons why a teenager could become addicted to gambling!

Websites using ‘Gamification’

gamification and gambling addiction

The term ‘gamification’ refers to a marketing technique in which websites use gaming elements (progress bar, level, experience) to attract younger audiences. Recently, most websites have been implementing gamification in their user interface, resulting in children being exposed to gambling activities without even knowing.

Pop-up ads

On top of that, many untrustworthy sites tend to take advantage of the fact that children are attracted by online activities that mimic gambling, so they invest in spammy pop-up ads that might trick underaged individuals into registering on a shady website or even installing malware on their device.

That’s why you need to monitor and restrict their online browsing activity without being too intrusive.

Social media influencers

The Internet is an excellent place for entertainment, but remember that most renowned influencers, especially YouTubers, make money from partnering with various brands and websites.

While this might sound logical, as a parent, you should be advised that some of the deals that Youtube influencers make are harmful to children since some of the products they promote are similar to gambling but allow underaged visitors to join the action.

Case study: the Mystery Box trend – success or flop?

An example of such promotion is the scandal that happened a few years ago when “mystery box” openings were trending on the Internet. Big influencers, such as Jake Paul (who has over 20 million subscribers on Youtube), were advertising Mystery Brand, a business that went bankrupt. This company was charging users for digital boxes filled with random objects, ranging from keychains to perfume or sneakers.

Many of the users who accessed websites similar to Mystery Brand reported that they never got their product or it arrived months later without tracking information. On top of that, the mystery box trend was a bad influence for children involved in gambling-like activities.

The repercussions

Luckily, Google took action and shut down these businesses because influencers encouraged children to deposit using their parents’ credit cards.

Another way through which social media influencers promote gambling addiction is through affiliate marketing offers. For every user that joins through their affiliate link, the influencer receives a commission, which essentially encourages addictive behaviour for profit. The problem with this approach is also that, most of the time, they don’t test the marketed products.

Online gaming microtransactions

loot box gambling addiction

Have you ever wondered why online gambling is so attractive for your children?

Most online games use gambling mechanisms to create addiction!

For instance, these games charge real money to acquire items that will help the player progress.

But be aware that there is a crucial difference between a DLC (downloadable content), which asks players to pay a specific amount to receive additional levels and characters, and a microtransaction, which usually takes the form of loot boxes with randomized rewards

Elements that influence addictive teenage gambling behaviour

    • Skins Betting

This is the most common form of online gambling amongst underage audiences, where children can bet graphic elements that change the look of a character in a game, known as ‘skins’.

Unfortunately, illegal third party casino services allow users to join their platform. Instead of depositing real money, gamers can use their skins to bet. However, the primary way to acquire them is through microtransaction, slowly transforming it into gambling.

    • Loot Boxes

They are in-game purchases that offer players a box containing various game cosmetics, ranging from the most common items to extremely rare ones.

This gaming element has been condemned by multiple governments due to its risks and is entirely illegal in China.

  • Esports Betting

Some online video games like League of Legends or Counter-Strike are considered esports, meaning that users can bet on the outcome of gaming competitions similarly to regular sporting events.

Statistics show that the esports betting market has an estimated worth of $16 billion. With this in mind, children will likely find a way to place their wagers on these tournaments without having the legal gambling age.

Now that you have a better understanding of how the Internet can influence addiction in children, it’s time to find out the solutions our specialists found that can help you prevent underage gambling behaviour.

How to Protect Your Children and Monitor Their Internet Activity

    1. Use parental controls from your internet provider

Most ISPs allow users to limit the websites to which specific devices have access.

This way, you can contact your internet provider’s support team and request them to block websites containing content related to gambling, pornography, and other activities that can be harmful to children.

    1. Download parental control software

The demand for access blocking services has increased in recent years, and more options are becoming available every day.

Software like Net Nanny or KidLogger allows parents to monitor their child’s online activity, block certain websites, read their texts, and social media activity. Even though it might sound like bad parenting, using these services allows you to better control his actions on the Internet.

    1. Set limits for Internet usage

Apps like Google Family link allow parents to set screen time limits and manage the app usage on their children’s devices. 

In case you’re using an iOS device, you can directly set boundaries from the phone’s settings.

  1. Direct communication

Children are scared of talking to their parents about the Internet, mainly because they’re scared of a bad reaction.

Thus, you should be the one initiating the conversation and telling them about the dangers of browsing the web. Don’t be aggressive! Just let them know that you’re there for them and listen to their problems. On top of that, you can set an example by limiting your own screen time, at least when you’re around them.

Are these measures necessary?

Absolutely! Even though some of the solutions which we showcased might seem too intrusive, psychologists suggest that monitoring the online activity is crucial in preventing gambling behaviour.

According to Marc Etches, former Chief Executive at GambleAware (a site dedicated specifically to preventing addiction), children are growing up in a different world than their parents.

It is also crucial to recognize the most suited gambling addiction treatment for your teenager, that will help him move forward and heal.

Remember, we all share the responsibility to impede the harmful influence of gambling!

Explain Gambling to Your Child

Suppose you want your teenager to understand that gambling is harmful and can develop dangerously addictive behaviour. In that case, you have to approach them and explain how it all works.

Here are a few of the topics that you should mention to your child  when talking about gambling:

    1. Tell them to avoid specific sites that could bring harm

Your children should know that you have installed monitoring software on their devices. Have a discussion in which you let them know how the system works and what information you will be sharing.

    1. Explain that underage gambling is illegal

According to child gambling laws, this type of activity is not permitted for people under the age of 18.

When this happens, it is usually because nobody told teens they couldn’t. That’s why it’s essential to discuss that gambling before they turn 18 is completely forbidden, whether we talk about land-based or online casinos.

    1. Talk about screen time

As we’ve already mentioned, there are multiple factors that could trigger addiction. Therefore, sit with them, analyze their screen time reports and try to find out how they feel when they’re not using the phone. This might help you identify teenage gambling addiction early.

  1. Ask about his friends

Gambling is a social activity, so if he has classmates or friends that are illegally betting, you should teach him to avoid doing these things because they can be harmful.

Keep in mind!

Even though casino technology has evolved to a point where it no longer allows underaged users to register, there are still free games that use gambling-like features.

Examples of such games include Candy Crush Saga or Clash Royale. These popular free games allow in-app purchases for loot boxes and can potentially influence addictive behaviour.

How to Identify Teenage Gambling Addiction

protect children from gambling addiction
  1. If you notice that he spends too much time on online gambling sites and neglects their relationship with friends and family, you should start taking action right away;
  2. If he has stolen money from you or sold his belongings to deposit on gaming sites, he has already been exposed to gambling behaviour, meaning that you should restrict their internet usage right away;
  3. If the child becomes angry over the fact that he lost money on loot boxes or that you forbade access to this type of website, you should reach out to a responsible gambling association and start counselling, which will help them overcome addiction.  

Taking care of teenage gambling addiction early on can prevent the behaviour from carrying on into adulthood!

Three Tips to protect your kid from gambling addiction

    1. Use AdBlocker

Ads are the primary traffic source for gaming platforms, so using Adblocker software can prevent your teenager from being exposed to gambling commercials, which can help you save your kid from becoming addicted;

    1. Communicate

The secret of any successful relationship is communication. Explain the dangers of gambling to your children and make sure they understand the risks of becoming addicted;

  1. Monitor the online activity

Gaming devices and personal electronics of children should be monitored at all costs to prevent exposure to gambling-related activities, including loot boxes.

The addictive effect of technology – statistics

Even though technology is helping us evolve as a society, its addictive design can be concerning. Recent studies show that, on average, Canadians spend an average of 4.2 hours per day on the computer, 3.1 hours watching TV, and 2.4 hours looking at their smartphones. 

With people spending nearly 11 hours daily on technology, addictive behaviour has become more common. As a parent, you want what’s best for him, so you have to adapt and implement new strategies that can stop them in their tracks from becoming addicted.

The bottom line

Underaged gambling is a real problem, and the risk of your child being exposed to gaming platforms is increasing as technology advances. Use the advice mentioned in this article to keep the addiction from happening.

If you notice early signs of gambling addiction in your kid’s behaviour, seek professional help immediately! We gathered 90 Canadian Facilities that offer expert assistance and guidance for people of all ages.