In most countries it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to gamble. Although a few underage gamblers certainly manage to sneak into land-based casinos, they are generally quite good at stopping teens at the door.
With internet gambling however, there is little to stop a teen from placing bets online. In general, if they are able to get their hands on a credit card they can easily register at an online gambling website. The research tends to support the theory that it is simple for teens to gamble online and adolescents (especially boys) are often over-represented among online problem gamblers.
In this article TechAddiction examines the risk factors for teens with a online gambling problem, advice for parents of teenage gamblers, and offers a self-assessment questionnaire for teen gamblers.
Risk Factors For Teen Online Gambling
Private, unlimited access to the internet (i.e., in a bedroom)
Having immediate family members who gamble
Starting to gamble at an early age
Frequent use of "free-to-play" areas on gambling websites
Experiencing a big win shortly after starting to play
Boredom / loneliness
Strong sensation - seeking tendencies
Advice For Parents Of Teen Gamblers
Set a good example - if you do not want your children to gamble, do not do so yourself
Set (and enforce) clear rules about what kinds of sites are allowed and those that are not allowed
Install software that blocks access to online gambling websites (as well as other inappropriate online content)
Talk to your child about the dangers of online gambling and why it is especially inappropriate for someone of his or her age
Keep track of which websites your child is visiting
Make sure that computers are in open common areas - and defiantly not in your child's bedroom
Learn much more about teen gambling problems and prevention at www.youthgambling.com
The Gambling Addiction Questionnaire For Teens
1. Do you often think about gambling when you are at school, at work, or with friends?
2. Are you spending more on gambling now than you were when you first started?
3. When you try to cut back on how often you gamble do you become angry, stressed, or easily irritated?
4. When you have problems with your friends, family, or school do you gamble to temporarily forget this problems?
5. When you lose money gambling, do you try to win it back?
6. Do you lie to your family and friends about how often you gamble or how much you have won or lost?
7. Do you spend on gambling that is intended for other things (e.g., lunch, clothing, transportation)?
8. Have you stolen money from family members and used it to gamble?
9. Have you stolen money from non-family members and used it to gamble?
10. Do you get into trouble with your parents or other family members because of your gambling?
11. Do you sometimes miss school or work because you would rather gamble?
12. Have you ever asked for help to cut back or quit gambling?
If you answered "Yes" to any of the questions above, you may be in the process of developing a gambling problem…or may already have one.
If there is even a chance that you have lost control of your gambling habits (even if you do not want to believe this), you need to do something about it. There are many people and organizations that can help you if you contact them. Talk to your parents, a school counsellor, or someone else you trust.
Also, help is just a phone call away with these problem gambling hotlines in Canada, in the US, the UK, and around the world.
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