Young boy gambling.

The Potential Problem of Kids & Gambling

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Have you noticed that gambling is now treated like a sport?

Take a minute to go to the ESPN web site and search for the term “poker”. You’ll find that ESPN Poker, is an entire section devoted to the game. Times sure have changed! Not long ago, very few people would have considered poker (a form of gambling) to be classified as a sport.Young boy gambling.

Today’s young generation is the first to ever be exposed to so many gambling opportunities & advertisements, and to live in a society where gambling is generally approved. Teens have a naturally high interest in taking risks, they tend to think that they are invulnerable, and they don’t usually have the ability to recognize that “fun” things like gambling can lead to serious issues. As a result, teens are particularly at-risk for developing gambling problems.

The statistics for problem and pathological gambling is between 4.6 and 7.5% among adults in North America. For adolescents, the rate of problem gambling is 2 to 4 times that of adults.

Recent research from Norway examined the frequency of gambling among high-school teenagers. They reported that 7.3% of boys and 0.6% of girls in the study were classified as problem gamblers. The study also looked for health problems that might result from gambling. They found that gambling is connected to both depression and alcohol abuse.

Problem gambling is generally considered to be an addictive disorder. Treating gambling addiction is very difficult. When teenagers start gambling, it’s best to consider it as a potential serious problem.

Pay attention to what your kids are doing both on the Internet and with friends. React quickly to any behavior that suggests gambling. Talk to them about it often and don’t be afraid to seek professional advice and treatment in order to avoid lifelong consequences.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.