By Julie Dostal
---- — Youth are exposed to gambling now more than ever before, and they think it is normal.
Fortunately, children also indicate that they would turn to their parents for help if they ever experienced problems with gambling. That is why parents play a crucial role in educating their kids about gambling and its risks of addiction.
Did you know that less than half of the parents ever discuss gambling issues with their teen and that only 13 percent of parents believe that their teen actually gambles for money?
Reality is that kids from all social backgrounds gamble at home, a friend’s house or school with friends, family, relatives and siblings. In most cases, their parents will actually buy their lottery tickets. They play cards, sports betting, lottery and the Internet, where most money is spent in online gambling. In New York State, 48 percent of seventh through 12th graders reported they had gambled in the past year.
Youth today are bombarded with images and messages that depict gambling as exciting and glamorous. This generation is overwhelmingly exposed to messages about the benefits of gambling and the belief that they can make a lot of money in a short time. It’s up to you to send a balanced message about the realities of gambling and the potential consequences.
Youth Gambling International found young adults from 18 to 21 are three times more likely to have problems associated with gambling. In New York state about 140,000 adolescents have had problems because of their gambling. An additional 10 percent of youth in New York state are at risk for problem gambling.
Your children are probably doing what they usually do when they’re with friends … hanging out, playing music, playing sports and having fun. But what are the odds that they are taking risks you never worried about?
• Have you noticed changes in your child’s mood (more often than usual, that is!)?
• Has she or he been more secretive lately and/or stopped hanging out with old friends?
• Have you been missing money or thought you‘ve been misplacing things?
• Has he or she spent an unusual amount of time watching and listening to sports or playing cards?
• Does your child have an intense reaction to the outcome of a game regardless of which team wins?
It’s possible that these may be warning signs that your child could have a gambling problem or the beginning of one? Unlike other problem behaviors, there are no physical signs to detect if someone is gambling. They don’t smell like a deck of cards or have dice marks on their arms.
So, talk to your kids about gambling, they know more than you think! If you have questions, need more information, or need help please contact the LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addiction at 607-432-0090 or at www.leafinc.org. We can also be found on Twitter @LEAFCouncil and on Facebook www.facebook.com/leafinc.
Julie Dostal is the Executive Director of the LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addiction and President of the Council on Addiction of New York State.