Teens and Gambling

Teenagers are used to taking chances every day in order to figure out just who they are. Teens may also indulge in games of chance, which could become a major issue.

A 2002 study by Martin Lazoritz, MD in Florida found that 70 percent of teens have gambled in their lifetime, while 43 percent had gambled within the last year. Lazoritz’s study also found that the typical age teens started to gamble was 12.5 years old, despite the legal age in Florida to gamble being 18.

The forms of gambling found in teens include social gambling and pathological gambling. The social gambler will only gamble on occasion, where it includes social interaction. The social gambler is characterized by just wanting to have fun in smaller games, playing only with friends.

The pathological gambler enjoys the rush of gambling, trying anything to stay in the game even if it means writing out IOUs. A pathological teen gambler will aspire to win the big jackpot, but will keep playing even if he is losing.

A few tells that your child maybe gambling includes selling personal items, borrows money without repaying it, breaks curfew regularly, wastes hours of time online gaming websites, appears distracted or anxious and has plenty of unexplained absences from school or work. Your child could also be gambling if they lie and steal to obtain money, has a large amount of cash or debt that can’t be explained or are on the phone with strangers and gambling hotlines frequently.

Teens that get too far into gambling could face steep consequences for their actions, including declining grades, habitual money problems, less time for family and friends, associations with shady characters who could make life tough and the temptation to perform illegal actions in order to obtain money.

It is vital to be setting a good example as parents for your children, especially during the formative teen years. While gambling maybe ok for older and mature adults to handle, your actions are noticed favorably by your children if you engage in the activity.

Talk with your children about gambling, reminding them that it is illegal for teens to partake in. With your teen, be crystal clear with your expectations regarding gambling and your teen. Help your child learn ways to resist gambling and develop other interests.

Finding out if your child has a gambling issue, like many other issues are important to find early. There are plenty of people in your local community that can help, including teachers, clergy, counselors and elders. Compulsive gambling may require outside help to properly treat, including counseling and family therapy.