There are many must-have chats we need to have with our children and gambling is another one to add to your list.
You might think it’s a bit early to be talking about gambling. After all, you’re unable to participate in most forms of gambling until you’re 18. However, the reality is that pre-teen children can be influenced by gambling opportunities, ads, promotions and behaviours.
Whether it’s on TV, on the radio, at the football stadium or popping up during video games, gambling ads and influences are everywhere.
And with 1 in 5 adults with gambling problems starting to gamble before they were 18, you can see how an open conversation with your child now could help avoid difficulties down the track.
There are no scripts for tricky topics like gambling, but being prepared can help you feel more confident, as does accepting the fact that you don’t have to be an expert.
These 5 top tips on how to get the conversation started can also help.
1. Bring it up before your child does
You may worry that you’re putting ideas in your child’s head, but the likelihood is that your child is already forming attitudes to gambling, without your input. This is especially true if your child is in the teenage years and has more exposure and/or access to gambling through digital devices, social media and interaction with their mates.
2. Pick your moment(s)
If your child is engrossed in something, it’s probably not the right time to talk about gambling. Children can smell a lecture a mile off so grab the opportunities as they arise – perhaps in the car on the way to school or sports practice, or when a gambling ad comes on TV. Don’t feel you have to cover everything in one chat either. The most important thing is to let your child know that the topic is on the table, and that they can talk to you about gambling at any time.
3. Be a good role model
If your child is regularly exposed to you or other family members gambling, it sends a message that gambling is a harmless, risk-free activity. You’ll also be much less likely to be taken seriously. Children are always good at noticing if what you say doesn’t match what you do!
4. Cover a few basics
- Talk about what you love about sport, and make sure your child knows sport and gambling don’t have to go together.
- Help your child understand that gambling companies are in business to make money from customers, and that the chances of winning are limited.
- Discuss the things that can influence attitudes to gambling. For instance, you could talk about the blurred lines between gaming and gambling, and how technology has made it easier to gamble.
- Point out gambling is risky and can cause harm. Consider talking about the immediate consequences, like not having enough money to spend on other things your child may want.
5. Back up words with action
Manage access to your money. Are your credit or debit cards linked to accounts your children access, such as those for downloading music? Virtual gaming and gambling websites regularly offer purchased credits or rewards and it’s not always obvious that these purchases relate to real money.
Enforce rules around internet use. Create a screen-time plan, locate devices in a shared or visible place in the home, filter access with safe internet search settings, or install software to block gambling sites.