Sometimes teens define the word gambler in extreme terms: the person who hits the slot machines at a casino and doesn’t come home until dawn or loses a paycheque at the racetrack. But the National Research Council reports that 52 per cent to 89 per cent of teens have gambled or are currently gambling.

More than 2,000 websites are dedicated to online gambling, some offering point spreads during major events, such as March Madness. And the popularity of televised celebrity poker tournaments makes gambling enticing. These teens are the first generation of a culture that has legalized gambling.

Gaming, a common euphemism for gambling, is on the rise – card games, lotteries and scratch tickets, as well as betting on sporting events.

Parents can be proactive in fighting gaming:

  • Talk with your teen about the addictive nature of gambling, and what to do if they (or friends) need help.
  • Move the family’s computer into the living room.
  • Check your computer’s web history file often, or if your teen is tech-savvy, install software that blocks gambling sites.
  • Know your teen’s online friends.
  • Watch for signs, such as unexplained debt, extra money or new possessions.
  • * In other contexts, the term gaming is sometimes used to refer to non-gambling video or computer games.

    From Focus on Your Child’s Teen Phases, February 2008. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission. 

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