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Teen Gambling on the Rise: How to Help

Teen Gambling on the Rise: How to Help

Between 60% and 80% of high school students report having gambled for money in the past year, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. Common methods of teen gambling include online sports betting and gaming websites, card games, lottery tickets, and scratch-offs. Besides being illegal for teens, gambling can easily become addictive and is linked to mental health problems such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Having a mental health issue may also make teens more susceptible to gambling addictions – many addictive behaviors are borne out of a desire to alleviate symptoms of poor mental health. Unfortunately, the negative effects of compulsive gambling, such as incurring excessive amounts of debt, will only increase your teen’s mental health problems.

How to Keep Your Teen Safe from Gambling Addiction
If you are concerned about your teen’s gambling habits, these tips will help you remedy the situation before it gets out of control.

Educate Them
With gambling becoming increasingly prevalent online, teens are exposed at a much younger age. Make sure you proactively teach your teen about the dangers of gambling addiction just as you would about drug or alcohol addiction. Explain to them how easily people become addicted to gambling and how insignificant the odds are that they will win big. Explain that gambling companies always at an advantage – they are structured in a way that they will always make more money than they pay out to gamblers. Otherwise, they would go out of business quickly.

Monitor Their Online Habits
It’s difficult to strictly monitor your online teen’s activity; however, if you discover evidence that your teen is gambling, such as using popular sports betting apps or visiting casino or poker sites, talk to them promptly about the dangers of gambling before the problem gets worse. There are also several helpful online tools available to block access to gambling websites and apps to keep your teen from gambling online.

Look Out for the Signs
Your teen may effectively hide their gambling habits from you, but there are many telltale signs that there may be a problem.

  • Sudden changes in the amount of money your teen has or is spending, whether that means they are consistently short on cash or have more than usual
  • Signs of depression or anxiety, such as low energy, excessive sleeping, irritability, or mood changes
  • Poor performance in school
  • Lack of interest in social interaction or other activities
  • A preoccupation with gambling sites, apps, and games or sports results
  • Behaving secretly or spending excessive time isolated in their room

If you suspect your teen may have a gambling problem, the best way to approach the subject is by remaining nonjudgmental and understanding.

Seek Professional Help
If your teen has an addiction to gambling or is suffering mental health issues that are causing them to engage in destructive behaviors, we can help. Compulsive gambling is a serious issue and if not treated can lead to other addictive behaviors and additional mental health disorders.

Christian Health’s LiveWell Counseling center provides one-on-one counseling with mental health experts to treat a number of issues, including anxiety, depression, and addiction for individuals of all ages, including teens. For more information or to schedule an appointment for your teen, please call (201) 848-5800.