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To legally gamble in the United States, you must be at least 18 years old in every state. As a result, you may be wondering why gambling is such a big deal in children. People may be surprised by the scope of the problem of child and adolescent gambling, as well as the potential impact of free mobile games on youth gambling addiction.
Many online games marketed for children may, in fact, contain gambling elements or content that encourages users to play for real money. Children gamble for a variety of reasons, including the chance to temporarily escape their ordinary lives. When the demands of school and home life become too much for children, they can do other things to reduce stress and strengthen their immune systems.
Young people are more likely to become addicted to gambling because the activity stimulates the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which gives them a sense of excitement. When a natural “high” turns into addiction, it may be difficult to stop gambling because of the addiction that results.
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How Young People Can Develop a Gambling Addiction
It is possible that children will become addicted to mobile or internet games before beginning to gamble. Because of the proliferation of mobile devices and the internet, children can now play their favorite internet games whenever and wherever they want.
The skill level required to play these games is frequently low, and they all involve some element of chance. Such elements can hold children’s attention for an extended period of time. There are a variety of themes that can be found in mobile games that are deemed safe. Sweet prizes and virtual pets are two examples of these themes.
The problem is as follows. It’s possible that these games will elicit the same emotions and excitement that gamblers do. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is produced in greater quantities in the brain when a person experiences higher levels of subjective excitement and engages in more gambling activity. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transport signals throughout the central nervous system (CNS).
Furthermore, both the internet and television have the potential to serve as reinforcers that encourage underage gambling. Children, for example, may see gambling advertisements on television or visit internet gambling sites. Offline gambling forms such as card games, scratch cards, and lottery tickets are all potential entry points for young gamblers.
After that, they could progress to more serious forms of gambling. For example, children may begin betting on horse races or other types of sports, or they may begin playing casino games online.
Some children engage in gambling activities while playing free online games in “practice mode.” They may see these games as a way to have some fun while quickly becoming wealthy.
Another factor to consider is that the majority of mobile and internet gambling games may resemble video games. As a result, it is possible for children to believe that if they simply improve their gambling skills, they will be able to beat the odds and earn money.
Advice for Preventing Gambling Addiction in Children
The following are some methods you can use to help prevent children from developing a gambling addiction:
Describe how the gambling process works
Children in the upper grades of elementary school may be interested in learning about gambling, particularly the long-term odds of winning. It is hypothesized that children begin to develop abstract thought during the formal operational stage, which typically begins between the ages of 12 and 15.
One strategy you could use is to describe how unlikely it is that you will win the competition. For example, the chances of winning a major prize in a lottery game are far greater than the chances of being struck by lightning at some point in one’s life.
Another strategy is to describe the more practical aspects of gambling. Casinos in Las Vegas, for example, can stay profitable because they take in more money than they pay out in winnings. Even when customers lose their bets, gambling establishments continue to generate revenue.
Consider what your family members do and how they feel
Children may develop an interest in gambling if they see it being done in your home because they are exposed to it. If a family has a history of gambling, for example, the children may see it as normal and want to participate as well.
Consider for a moment that they observe their parents engaging in activities such as slot machine gambling, betting on sports such as football or basketball, or purchasing lottery tickets. Children frequently attempt to emulate their parent’s behavior. Gambling could be viewed as a way for them to have fun or make money. When it comes to becoming a role model, you have the ability to set a positive or negative example for your children.
Establish Ground Rules for Your Family’s Screen and Internet Use
Setting family guidelines for your children’s use of electronic media, such as computers, televisions, and mobile devices, can help reduce the risk of gambling addiction.
If you and your children create the rules together, they are more likely to be followed. However, there should be some laws that are unchangeable, such as the prohibition on using credit cards to gamble online. This opportunity may encourage your children to use digital media for educational purposes, which can be beneficial to their development.
Be aware of the warning signs of gambling addiction
There are many different reasons why children would gamble. For instance, children may be dealing with issues at home or school, or they may be experiencing feelings of tension or boredom in their free time. As a parent, you have the ability to monitor any concerns that may arise regarding your child’s emotional well-being, academic performance, and social interactions. If you do this, there’s a good chance that you won’t have any issues related to gambling in the first place. You can also encourage your child to find healthier stress-relieving activities, such as hobbies, sports, and music, which they can participate in to relieve their tension.