Online Gaming and Kids: Risks & Prevention
Although technology in the gaming ecosystem has made it easy and quick for anyone to access online casino games, it doesn’t come without its fair share of repercussions. Online gambling might save adults the hassle of having to ‘trek’ to the casino, but it also exposes younger generations to the risky world of gaming.
Since it is challenging to verify the true identity of the person behind the phone screen or desktop monitor, children end up exploiting this loophole to access online casinos and gamble using their parents’ or siblings’ accounts. Although this phenomenon is not new, a recent report by the UKGC reveals shocking details on how rife underage gambling is. And the problem is getting worse by the day.
So, how bad is the underage gambling problem? How can we protect kids from gambling and make the online space safe? Below, we will take a look at some stats on the underage gaming epidemic. Here are notable figures and facts which paint a grim picture of the gambling problem.
Numbers behind underage gambling
The number of children gambling online has increased fourfold within a year
According to the UKGC report, the number of kids gambling online has skyrocketed to almost 50,000 in the last year. This number is nearly four times the number of children who were gambling online two years ago. This fact goes to show that the problem is worsening despite casinos and regulatory bodies claiming to put stringent measures into action.
Almost 40% of teens spend their own cash on gambling online
Although close to 10% of teens who engage in online gaming use their parents’ or siblings’ accounts, 40% of them use their own money to bet online. This trend makes for a bad reading, especially when you consider that the average teen spends nearly $20 per week.
Only 20% of the youth have had education on the dangers of online gambling from their parents
This figure shows just how much parents have failed at educating their children on the dangers of gambling. In fact, only one in five parents of teens engaging in online gaming has educated their kids on the risks of this activity. Only 20% of parents have made it clear to their children that underage gaming is dangerous and have outlined punitive measures.
16% of kids follow betting companies on social media platforms
As you can see, social media outlets also influence children to engage in illegal gambling activities. This fact raises concerns on how much time the youth should spend online and what measures social media platforms should put into place to ensure that online casinos are not accessible to kids.
Now that we have seen the numbers behind the menace, what are the risks of such gambling? How can we prevent the problem from escalating further?
Risks of underage online gambling
The biggest threat of underage online gaming is addiction. The more the teens play online, the higher the chances of them getting hooked to casino games and sports betting. Addiction at an early age means that the affected children will give up their studies and try to feed their addiction, which is dangerous for the nation.
Increased crime and drug abuse
With gambling addiction comes the need for more money to continue gambling. If teens can’t access the funds, they end up turning to crime. Some fall into depression and turn to drugs as a final resort. These problems lead to moral decadence and deteriorated security in communities.
Gambling leads to mental disorders
Compulsive gambling by adolescents leads to anger issues and other mental disorders, which cost lots of money to treat. Teens are often frustrated from chasing losses, and this affects their temperament.
So, how can parents and casino stakeholders prevent underage gambling? Here are some tips on how they can work together to curb the menace eroding the future of societies.
Protecting kids from online gambling
Educate your children on the dangers of gambling from a young age
The best means of preventing underage betting is through early education of teens on how online gambling works and the dangers attached to engaging in the activity. Explain to your children that the house always has an advantage and losing is often the case.
Limit internet use for your children
Although it is difficult to completely prohibit your children from accessing the internet in this digital age, it is advisable to limit internet use as much as possible. Limit the number of hours that your teens can play on the phone and restrict them from using their phones during school days. It is also imperative to keep an eye on the content that your kid consumes online by taking a look at the history and the social media pages they follow.
Keep your credit card info away from kids
Giving your children access to your bank information and cards can evoke curiosity and make them want to try out something new. You should, therefore, ensure that your children have no access whatsoever to any credit card or debit card information, and if you suspect that they have access to your cards, change them as soon as you can.
Always be on the look-out
It is imperative to stay alert and know the activities that your child is engaged in at all times. Demand to know their friends and ask about what they do when they are free. By staying alert, you can pick up on symptoms of your child engaging in gambling activities, and with that, you can move in swiftly and get them help before it is too late.
Prevention of underage gambling is a collective effort involving parents, industry players and regulatory bodies. Parents should keep an eye on their children, and regulatory authorities should introduce stringent measures for casinos with the outlined consequences if casinos don’t adhere to them. Casinos need to enforce the rules lest they risk getting their licenses revoked and officials put behind bars.