Summer Youth Gambling Prevention Posted On

Summer is approaching and the kids will soon be home. Unlike school days, youth will have a lot of extra time on their hands that could be used for good choices or for poor choices. This time of year, when youth have so much time on their hands, is when many youth begin choosing to participate in risky behaviors like youth gambling.

Why Youth May Gamble

Youth are always at an increased risk for risky behaviors such as gambling and alcohol use, because of the stage of their brain development.  The teenage brain is designed to take risks. That’s how they grow. The teenage years are an important time for youth to test their boundaries, experiment with different types of activities, and explore their world to find out who they are and what’s important to them.  This time of development puts youth at a heightened risk for choices that can lead to future addictions, which is what concerns us as parents and concerned professionals. 

Youth gambling is one of those risky activities.  Since gambling activities have risk and excitement, gambling can be very attractive to youth.  Youth who continue to participate in gambling activities may begin to have a sense that they need gambling to feel excitement.  If their brains develop with this drive towards gambling to feel excitement, they may be on the road of addiction to gambling.

Risks of Youth Gambling 

There are risks and consequences specific for youth who choose to gamble.  It’s important for everyone to know these risks to help guide youth to making better choices for themselves.  Some of these risks include:

  • Damaged relationships;
  • Increased risk for addiction;
  • Poor academic performance;
  • Increased risk for delinquency and crime;
  • Increased risk for substance use and abuse;
  • Mental health issues including depression and anxiety.

How to Help Youth Make Healthy Choices.

There are a few things that we can do as parents and professionals to help guide youth and do our best to ensure that they live the best and most prosperous lives possible.

  • Parental Influence: Parents can talk to their youth to influence their choices about gambling. Parents have a much larger influence on the health and wellness of their kids then many think they do. Many parents of teenagers feel that their teenagers aren’t listening, and that what they say as parents doesn’t influence their kid’s choices. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although kids may not seem to be listening, things that parents say do have an impact on their choices. Letting your kids know about things you agree and disagree with, like disagreeing on underage gambling, can help guide youth away from the risky choice to gamble.
  • Youth Awareness: Youth need to be aware of the truths and risks associated with youth gambling. The more they know, the better decisions they’ll be able to make. If they don’t know the truths and risks associated with underage gambling, they can’t be expected to make the best decisions for themselves.
  • Community Action: Community participation in reducing youth access to gambling is a great way to show youth that more than just parents and prevention professionals want them to choose healthier activities for themselves. Community action can be as simple holding gambling free community events where youth will be present, having sport fundraising events that do not involve gambling activities like 50-50 raffles, and updating businesses policies stating that youth are prohibited from gambling in their locations. 

Learn More

There are many resources to help educate youth, parents and community leaders about the risks of youth gambling and how to reduce youth access and participation in gambling.  A great place to start is by visiting the YOU(th) Decide project website.  Here, you’ll find many helpful resources, such as current articles, school policy ideas, a gambling-free event policy template, and an underage gambling fact sheet.

Another great resource for information on youth gambling is the ebook The Dangers of Youth Gambling Addiction.  Here you’ll find information about youth gambling, youth brain development, and how youth are introduced to gambling and more. 

If you believe your teen is struggling with gambling problems, please reach out to the NYS HOPEline for additional resources and local options for help.  The NYS HOPEline can be reached at 1-877-8-HOPENY (or 1-877-846-7369). 

Summer is a great time to reconnect with family through in-home and outdoor activities.  Using this time to reconnect with our kids is a great opportunity to ensure we can guide them to make the best choices possible.  We hope you and your family have a very nice summer!