Being the parent of a teenager makes those ‘terrible two’ challenges look pale in comparison. With the multitude of enticements out there, it is practically a full-time job to makes sure you keep your child free of an addiction. It is hard enough to spot the ones dealing with drugs and alcohol, but it can be almost impossible to notice when they begin to have a problem with teen gambling. This may seem on the surface to be an innocuous past time, but the consequences of this gateway addiction are real. Any any online game addiction would of course rob them of that precious time they could be better putting themselves into more productive tasks, it can develop further as a gateway addiction that leads into teen gambling, and the consequences can become tragic for both parent and teen involved. But just what behavior can surface as a result? Many studies are showing that a number of high-risk behavior can begin with online gambling, such as an increased likelihood of using marijuana and other drugs, binge drinking, gang fighting, stealing and shoplifting, and most certainly getting in trouble with the police. While there are various reasons ‘why’ this is the case, the predominant one is the need to continue to finance their online game addiction as a whole.
We all know that the house always wins, but many online systems are designed to lure players in with easy winnings at the beginning- (leaving them sure), they’ve found the way to finance college or perhaps their first car. When those hopes are dashed, they keep playing in hopes of trying to win back what they’ve lost with an endless cycle that soon follows. They usually get started because they hear about it from friends, but since the Internet is chock full of gambling sites, it’s not difficult to come across one without much effort. Many begin as free play sites making them appear innocent enough at first. Teenagers generally have more expendable time than adults, which is one reason why teen gambling is taking-off even more so than it has been among adults. Parents should be aware of this potential problem and should be watching for signs such as: the immediate sales of personal belongings, borrowing from friends, and even stealing. Talk to them early- just as you would about drugs, sex and alcohol, so they understand the futility of using gambling as an income.
It is not entirely easy to spot the ‘gateway lures’ that are involved since much of the Internet commerce works so different in order to attract potential business rather than local storefront owners require. Legitimate internet websites often offer a bonus or discount for their products, but those that ‘bait’ offers with more than they promise are obvious red flags for sure. Just as you might teach your children about “trusting strangers”, the same should apply for teaching them about the internet and the dangers that are a part of everyday life crawling within the web.