As you know, there has always been an age limit on gambling, drinking, and smoking. These age limits are there to protect adolescents’ health and to prevent them from becoming addicted at an early age. Studies show that it is much easier to become addicted to gambling at a young age. Many understand the addiction and health risks to drinking and smoking but gambling risks are not viewed the same way.
Illusion of Gambling
A client, Chad age 18, stated “When I watch movies or TV, gambling is shown as something cool and something that adults do that is fun and is easy money. I always could not wait until I turned 21 so I could go to Las Vegas to gamble. There would be money; girls and it would be a great time.” As you can see, gambling is often depicted as a means of striking it rich easy or something that is “cool”. Due to the way gambling was depicted to Chad, he had the strong urge to go to Las Vegas and gamble to recreate the scenes he had seen in movies or TV shows.
While these shows are being glamorized on screen, it gives teenagers the urge to want to try it out. High school students show twice the amount of gambling problems as adult. These teens show signs of pathological gambling. As you know, pathological gambling signs include the rush when gambling, making many IOUs rather than stopping once they run out of money, they constantly try to stay in the game, and keep playing even after large amounts of losses.
Drew, age 16 stated “There was one night where a bunch of us guys were playing poker and I had run out of money and I had not won anything. I felt like if I could just stay in the game I could win it all back! So I started telling the guys that I would pay them back and kept making IOUs. By the end of the night, I knew I couldn’t pay the guys back. They kept asking me for the money after that but I kept making excuses and I thought that if I gambled one more time I could win it back and pay them all back. I kept losing and I couldn’t stop. I got angry and also considered stealing from other students.” As you can see, Drew showed signs of pathological gambling. He believed that if he kept playing, he would eventually win everything back. This rarely happens in gambling and this mindset is what gets them to keep gambling. Drew was sucked into gambling at a young age which made him more susceptible to becoming addicted. The young age and gambling can become a serious addiction.
How Parents Can Help Young Age and Gambling
There are various ways to help prevent teenagers from becoming addicted. The longer parents keep teenagers from gambling, the less likely they will be to becoming addicted to gambling. Studies have shown that students who have a substance abuse problem also have a gambling problem. Those that started to gamble at a younger age also wager more frequently than gamblers who started as adults. Parents should discourage gambling and monitor their children. Parents should look for signs of grades dropping, odd money problems, lack of time spent with friends and family, and time spent with troublemakers. Parents can explain that social gambling can be fun on occasion but there are many negative consequences when one becomes addicted to gambling.