Digital Danger for the Young
A basic foundational principle of the gambling interests is attracting and addicting the young to guarantee the next generation of gamblers, to keep the money flowing to the empire. The latest innovation has caught most of us off guard. Most parents relax when their kids are locked on to their smartphone or glued to a video screen, failing to realize that what the children are playing is extremely important.
While we have felt relief, 23% of teenage boys gamble online, more than smoke or do drugs. Warning youth of the danger of “pay to play” as a first step toward a lifetime of destructive addiction is difficult. They cannot see pay to play as gambling. But many parents who have found strange deductions on their credit cards have had rude awakenings to the easy transition from pay to play to competitive gambling. It is not enough to take away the screens.
Many reasons are offered for teen and child addiction: distraction from stress, depression, anxiety, school pressures, separating parents, worries about physical appearance, and bullying. If parents do not know about these problems, they leave their children vulnerable to predatory gamblers. Gambling initially provides a calming, trance-like state which blocks out distressing thoughts and feelings. The kids are buying self-soothing when they gamble. They are buying numbing from emotional pain. If you do not know that, you will find out when they commit crime or fraud to get the money to sooth the pain.
According to British therapist Liz Karter the keys to protecting children from gambling is a strong identity, healthy relationships and mental and emotional resilience. Most of us have no clue about how to develop these vague characteristics. Time invested with our children may open what they are thinking about and feeling. Clearing out gambling from our own lives is also crucial. We must teach our children how to deal with the painful things and the painful people in life and set a good example ourselves.