Gambling is emerging as a big issue for young people with the rise of online gambling sports betting, and gambling in gaming. With mobile phones, people now have a way to gamble in their pocket 24/7.
By age 15, half of all young people have participated in some type of gambling. That might not lead to a gambling problem later, but we know that people who start gambling young are more likely to be risky gamblers as adults.
Children and young people are also being exposed to gambling advertising more than ever – on TV when they watch sports and in their digital world on websites, apps and social media. Even some influencers (people famous from being on social media) are promoting gambling apps and websites.
How can we help children and young people develop healthy attitudes to gambling?
While it might seem that advertising is the biggest influence on young people’s relationship to gambling, it all starts with parents and carers, so it’s worth considering what message you are sending them. Do your actions show that gambling is fun and a normal part of everyday life? Some parents help their kids gamble by allowing them to use their online accounts. They may be setting your kids up for problems in the future.
Find out more about kids and gambling watching this talking with teens about gambling video (YouTube 5.25 mins).
A survey of 1,200 South Australian high school students found that 11 per cent are using technology at an unsafe level and 10 per cent are on the internet more than nine hours a day.
Kids and young people need balance between screen time and other activities. Some families find it useful to set limits on kids’ screen time to make sure they’re also doing other activities like sport, homework, hanging out with friends and getting outside.
Keep devices in shared spaces in your home so when your kids are online, you can see what they’re doing.
Gambling themes and activity have seeped into many video games played by kids and young people. Recent research suggests 62 per cent of the 82 best-selling video games have loot boxes and 84 per cent of games with loot boxes allow skins to be sold for cash or traded for other items that had monetary value.
When you try out the video games your kids like to play, you can see first-hand any gambling related content — look for loot boxes, simulated gambling games like poker machines and games with currency you can earn or buy with real money. It’s also a good opportunity to talk about the gambling content in video games and why creators include it. Go to Gaming and gambling for more information or check out the Unplugged program helping kids set boundaries with their gaming.
You can install general or gambling-specific blocking software to stop access to all online gambling sites, servers and apps on your devices.
Many parents have unexpectedly received big bills for their children’s in-app purchases in online games.
Avoid in-app purchases and other content by turning on parent controls on:
- your devices (mobile phones, tablets, laptops)
- streaming services (like Netflix, Disney+)
- gaming consoles (like Playstation, Xbox)
- web browsers (like Google chrome, Safari, Edge).
Are you noticing changes in their mood, activity, sleep, schoolwork, study or work, or finances? Go to How does gambling harm young people? for more information.