How to protect your child from gambling?

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Even though underage gambling is completely prohibited by law in Canada, statistics show that the number of teenagers who tend to engage in betting activities in school and at home has become an international concern in recent years. The rate of gambling addiction in people aged 14-19 is seven times higher than in adults.

After conducting a recent study on children behavior, 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.

In the photo below, we’ve showcased some concerning underaged gambling statistics from The Recovery Village:

gambling statistics

With this in mind, you’re probably wondering how to protect your child from underage gambling. Don’t worry! Our team of specialists has been thoroughly researching this topic, aiming to help you identify problem gambling behavior 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 chances are not the only activity that can influence your children’s behavior 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.

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 protect your child by monitoring and restricting their online browsing activity without being too intrusive. More on that later in this article.

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.

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. 

In addition to the fact that many of the users of websites similar to Mystery Brand reported that they never got their product or arrived months later without tracking information, the mystery box trend was a bad influence for children involved in gambling-like activities. Luckily, Google took action and shut down these businesses because influencers encouraged children to deposit using their parent’s credit card.

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 behavior for profit.

Online gaming microtransactions

loot box gambling addiction

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

If you know that your child is an online gamer, watch out for these elements, which are scientifically proven to influence addictive gambling behavior:

  • Skins Betting – the most common form of online gambling amongst underage audiences, where children can bet their skins(the graphic element that changes the look of an item in-game). 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 skins is through microtransaction, making skins betting gambling with extra steps;
  • Loot Boxes – an in-game purchase that offers players a box containing various game cosmetics, ranging from the most common ones to extremely rare items. This gaming element has been condemned by multiple governments 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 is estimated to be worth $16 billion shortly, meaning that kids 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 gambling addiction in children, it’s time to find out the solutions our specialists found that can help you prevent underage gambling behavior.

How to Protect Your Children and Monitor Their Internet Activity

Even though some of the solutions that we will showcase below might seem too intrusive, psychologists suggest that monitoring your child’s online activity is crucial in preventing gambling behavior. According to Marc Etches, founder of GambleAware, children are growing up in a different world than their parents. We all share the responsibility to prevent the harmful influence of gambling.

Here are the leading solutions for protecting your infant from online gambling:

  • Use the parental controls from your internet provider – most ISP allows 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.
  • 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 your child’s internet activity.
  • 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.
  • Direct communication –  children are scared of talking to their parents about the Internet, mainly because they’re afraid 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.

Explain Gambling to Your Child

Suppose you want your child to understand that gambling is harmful and can form dangerously addictive behavior. 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:

  • Tell them to avoid doing anything they wouldn’t like a parent to see: your child 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.
  • Explain that underage gambling is illegal: when children under 18 years old gamble, they most likely do so because nobody told them they couldn’t. That’s why it’s essential to discuss that gambling before they turn 18 is completely forbidden, even when it happens online.
  • Talk about screen time: as we’ve already mentioned, gambling by itself is not the only factor that could lead to addiction. Therefore, sit with your child, 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 addiction early.
  • Ask about his friends: gambling is a social activity, so if your child has classmates or friends that are illegally betting, you should teach him to avoid doing these things because they can be harmful.

Be aware: Even though casino technology has evolved to a point where they no longer allow 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 behavior.

How to Identify Gambling Addiction

protect children from gambling addiction

Psychologists suggest that there are some gambling addiction warning signs that you, as a parent, should always look out for. First of all, if you notice that your child spends too much time on online gambling sites and neglects their relationship with friends and family, you should start taking action right away.

On top of that, if you notice that your child has stolen money from you or sold his belongings to deposit on gaming sites, he has already been exposed to gambling behavior, meaning that you should restrict their internet usage right away. 

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 counseling, which will help them overcome addiction.  Taking care of gambling addiction early on can prevent the behavior from carrying on into adulthood.

Three Tips to protect your kid from gambling addiction

Even though the technology is helping us evolve as a society, its addictive design can be concerning. Recent studies show that, on average, Canadian 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 behavior has become more common. As a parent, you want what’s best for your child, so you have to adapt and implement new strategies that can stop them in their tracks from becoming addicted.

Here are three tips that can help you restrict the internet usage of your children:

  • Use AdBlocker – ads are the primary traffic source for gaming platforms, so using Adblocker software can prevent your child from being exposed to gambling commercials, which can help you save your kid from becoming addicted;
  • 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;
  • Monitor 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 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 feel like your child is addicted to gambling, seek help from a health professional that can offer you guidance and a solution to your problem.

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