Problem Gambling & Kids: Adolescent Brain Development Posted On

We protect our kids from a lot of dangers. We teach them about the consequences of drinking, and why they shouldn’t smoke. We teach them about talking to strangers and who to go to for help when they need it. When they reach an appropriate age, we talk to them about their changing bodies and safe relationships.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t talk about the risks associated with gambling. Kids know about alcoholism, and they know how cigarettes can be addicting. We educate them about more serious drugs, as well.

We must talk to our youth about gambling addiction, and understand how adolescent brain development can make kids more likely to be at-risk.

Why Should We Teach Our Kids About Problem Gambling?

We need to educate our children about the risks and warning signs of gambling addiction because opportunities to gamble are all around them.

Kids can gamble with their friends and be introduced to new games with family members at home. They see advertisements for the lottery and local casinos, and they receive scratch-off cards for holidays. Opportunities to gamble are scattered throughout our communities (explore a few in our infographic: “The Cost of Gambling”).

We have to educate our kids about problem gambling because adolescents who gamble at a young age are more likely to become problem gamblers. As children and teenagers, our brains are not fully prepared to evaluate the consequences of every action.

How Does Brain Development Relate to Addiction?

Often, children and teenagers don’t understand or acknowledge the consequences of their decisions. This can be very frustrating for parents, but there’s a reason why this happens:

Our brains are not fully developed until we are in our early twenties.

That’s why teenagers may make irrational decisions that don’t seem to be logical to adults. Adolescents are more likely to take risks because the part of their brain that drives emotion and impulse develops before the part of the brain that processes complex information. As the brain becomes more able to consider all the details of a situation, then logic can help us make better choices.

When kids, teenagers and even college-age students begin gambling, emotions will drive their decision to gamble more, to be competitive, and to seek the “big win.” They’ll be more likely to take a gambling risk if they think they will benefit. Unfortunately, this also means young gamblers may risk relationships with friends and experience problems at school and at home.

Learn More About Problem Gambling and Youth.

KnowTheOdds is pleased to announce the release of its brand new e-book, “The Dangers of Youth Gambling Addiction.” Within, you’ll learn more about adolescent brain development, how kids are introduced to gambling, how online gaming affects kids’ habits, and much, much more.

We invite you to share this with people who should learn more about the risks of youth gambling. Teach others – parents, college students, high school students and younger children – about how problem gambling affects millions of people throughout the world.

Together, we can help keep more kids safe from devastating addictions.


Xavier Clinton

I will be old enough to drink booze next year and my brain is pretty much still ruled by its emotions. Why do they say 21 when I still think like and act like a teenager. That reason the law is there does not make sense. I played with lottery tickets ever since I was 7 and I won some to but I never developed a gambling addiction. I play lottery tickets today only rarely.

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