Supporting Youth During Summer Posted On

We’re half way through the summer and youth may be running out of ideas to use their time.  Supporting youth is important during summer.  We need to make sure that our youth are participating in healthy activities and not deciding to try or continue risky activities like gambling. 

Summer Time

It’s mid summer, and youth may begin to get restless around this time because they may have already done all the exciting summer activities they were looking forward to.   We need to help youth to choose healthy activities and ways to fill their time, so that they can avoid unhealthy activities, such as youth gambling, because their decision making skills are still being developed.

Supporting Youth’s Decision Making Skills

Youth between the ages of 12 and 25 are not physically capable of making the best choices all the time.  This is because until the age of about 25, the brain is not fully developed. The last part of the brain to develop is the prefrontal cortex.  This is the part of the brain the helps adults make choices by thinking about the pros and cons of each decision they make.  Until around the age of 25, youth could use some guidance in making healthy decisions.

This does not mean that we need to take over their lives and decide everything for them, but they do need the help of parents, teachers and other prominent adults in their lives to help offer options, and take the time to walk them through their important choices, such as deciding whether or not to gamble.

Reasons to Prevent Youth Gambling

You may not realize it, but youth are making important decisions about their development every day.  How they spend their time during this phase of life helps to determine their future development and adulthood experiences. Youth who spend their time gambling are at an increased risk for:

  • Delinquency and crime
  • Substance use, abuse and addiction
  • Damaged relationships
  • Poor academic performance
  • Mental health issues (i.e. depression and anxiety)
  • Overall, poor general health.

These risks are exactly what parents, loved ones and professionals working with youth are looking to avoid.  It’s important to help guide youth’s decisions during the summer months and offer healthy alternatives to filling their time with gambling.

Supporting Youth With Their Time

Since youth may feel stuck during the summer, it’s our responsibility to ensure they know how to utilize their extra time in a healthy manner. Here are some ideas that might help!

  • Chores at home. Chores help give youth in a number of ways.  They help structure part of their day.  Chores help youth contribute to the home and develop an understanding and appreciation for parent efforts.  Plus, youth who complete regular chores have higher self-esteem, develop responsibility, and can better handle frustration.
  • Youth Employment. Youth can begin legally working at the age of 14.  Having a job offers youth the experience of being responsible to another person or group of people, they can learn the importance of earning money, and it gives you the opportunity to help them manage their money.  Money management is a very important skill, along all of the other important lessons youth learn with their first employment.
  • Make a plan. Help youth make a plan for each day.  Even a simple plan of watching a movie with friends can be a lesson in planning ahead.  They can plan on who they’d like to go with, how they’ll get there, where they can (or have) earn money for the movie, and when to go.  If they’re planning to go on a bike ride with friends for the day, help them plan the route, decide on bringing or buying lunch, and what time to return home. 
  • Choose healthy activities. Although their summer may be time off from school, this doesn’t mean that they should avoid all learning activities. Planning time for reading, art or music, and mathematics (like budgeting money) are all activities that can help youth continue their education while enjoying an exciting summer. 

For more information about the risks of youth gambling and what you can do to help reduce youth access to gambling, visit YOU(th) Decide.  This project was created as a youth empowerment project aimed at reducing youth gambling and getting communities to work together to reduce youth access to gambling.  Here, you’ll find pamphlets, fact sheets, and other resources increase awareness and spark a conversation between you and your youth.

For additional resources, or to get treatment for a youth who is struggling with problem gambling, please reach out to the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (or 1-877-846-7369).  Here, you’ll be greeted by a trained clinician who is ready to help you find the options for help in your local area.

We truly hope you and your family are enjoying a wonderful summer.  We hope your youth are making healthy decisions regarding their summertime activities and making great memories with loved ones along the way.