How to Talk to Children About Gambling Advertisements

Gambling is a complex and sensitive topic that should be approached with caution, especially when talking with children. Gambling can bring about both positive and negative outcomes, from providing entertainment and socializing opportunities to causing addiction and financial ruin. It’s essential to provide children with an understanding of what gambling is, the risks associated with it, and how to make informed decisions. As a teacher or parent, have open conversations with your children about the consequences of gambling and help them develop critical thinking skills to avoid getting caught up in the excitement of betting. In this way, we can empower children to make responsible choices around gambling and maintain a healthy relationship with gambling activities as they grow up.

Gambling has become a common form of entertainment in our society, particularly with the rise of online gambling sites and sports betting. With this increase in popularity comes a corresponding increase in gambling advertising, which can have a profound impact on children’s attitudes and behaviors towards gambling. It is important to educate children about gambling advertising because it can influence their perceptions of gambling as a harmless activity and potentially lead to problem gambling later on in life. In addition, studies have shown that exposure to gambling advertising is associated with higher rates of gambling participation and problem gambling among youth. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), approximately 2-3% of adolescents in the United States have a gambling problem, and an additional 6% are at risk for developing one. The NCPG also reports that boys are more likely to gamble than girls, and that the most common forms of gambling among adolescents are card games, sports betting, and lottery tickets. Other research studies suggest that around 80% of high school students have gambled for money at least once in their lives. It is important to note that underage gambling can lead to negative consequences such as addiction, financial problems, and legal issues. Therefore, educating children about the effects of gambling advertising can help them make informed decisions and prevent the negative consequences associated with excessive gambling.

10 Tips on How to Talk to Children about Gambling Advertisements

1. Start by Explaining that Gambling is an Adult Activity:

Gambling is considered an adult activity because it involves the use of money and often requires making complex decisions and judgments. Children and young people may not have the necessary cognitive or emotional maturity to fully understand the risks and potential consequences of gambling.

2. Be Honest and Age-Appropriate:

Depending on the age of your child, use language they can understand and tailor your discussion accordingly. Be honest about the impacts of gambling and the hidden costs associated with it.

3. Use Examples from Their World:

Point out examples of gambling advertisements that your child may be familiar with, such as sports betting advertisements during sporting events.

4. Discuss the Marketing Strategies Used to Entice People to Gamble:

Point out that gambling advertisements often offer bonus money and free products to gamble. The details of these offerings can be misleading, and the purpose is to get the person to start or continue gambling. 

5. Set Clear Boundaries:

Make it clear to your child that they can set clear boundaries with their peers and others to not engage in gambling activities if asked to do so. 

6. Remind Them of the Risks:

Reinforce the idea that gambling is a risk and even small bets can lead to significant losses.

7. Encourage Critical Thinking:

Teach your child how to think critically about gambling ads and recognize the manipulative tactics that are being used.

8. Talk About the Financial Impact:

Explain how gambling can impact financial stability and lead to debt.

9. Emphasize the Importance of Responsible Gambling:

Teach your child about responsible gambling practices and the importance of never betting more than you can afford to lose.

10. Keep an Open Dialogue:

Encourage your child to come to you with any questions they may have about gambling advertising and continue to have open conversations about this topic.