March 21, 2024 3 min read


Hidden Dangers: Parents Unaware of Teens’ Online Gambling

Easy access to gaming platforms and the increasing prevalence of online influencers means many children try their hand at gambling at a shockingly young age

A recent report from The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health sheds light on a concerning trend: most parents are in the dark about whether their children are engaging in online gambling activities. While operators officially have age restrictions, cunning and tech-savvy youth usually have little difficulty creating accounts, leading to cases where teens lose hundreds of thousands.

Pervasive Advertisements Create New Dangers

One striking finding from the poll is that while one-third of parents acknowledge participating in various forms of betting, only 2% believe their teens have ever used online betting platforms, suggesting a significant underestimation of teenagers’ involvement in online gambling activities. Furthermore, most parents (55%) were unaware of their state’s legal age for online betting.

Although many parents expressed uncertainty about the risks associated with online betting, concerns about potential consequences were prevalent. The top concerns cited by parents include the risk of teens accumulating debt (83%), developing a gambling addiction (77%), and damaging their credit scores (51%). Despite these potentially harmful consequences, only a quarter of parents recalled discussing online betting with their teens.

My concern is we’re missing the boat here, and teens can get involved in this without really getting any support or explanation from their parents.

Sarah Clark, Department of Pediatrics research scientist

The report also highlights the pervasive influence of gambling advertisements, which often feature popular entertainers and sports figures and convey an enticing message of excitement and opportunity. The ubiquity of these ads, coupled with the similarities between online gambling platforms and popular gaming apps, makes teens particularly susceptible to their allure.

Open Dialogue Can Go a Long Way

Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll, commented on the findings for the Detroit news outlet WXYZ Channel 7, underscoring the potential risks associated with online gambling. The seamless integration of online gaming into familiar apps and games on smartphones, complete with enticing graphics, bonus incentives, and the allure of real money winnings, makes teens easy victims of the addictive nature of gambling.

Even at 21, 23, their brains are still developing. With this online gaming, with this 24/7 thing, you can get into trouble quickly.

Sarah Clark, Department of Pediatrics research scientist

A survey conducted in New Jersey revealed that a significant portion of individuals who gamble online started as young as 15-16 years old, and anecdotal evidence supports that claim. A case in the Netherlands saw a 17-year-old lose a whopping €500,000 from his grandfather’s account as the operator allegedly failed to follow safe gambling protocols.

To help parents identify potential signs of online betting among their children, Clark suggests monitoring changes in behavior, such as increased requests for money, unexplained missing valuables, sudden affluence, heightened interest in sports, and excessive phone use during sporting events. Initiating conversations with children about online gambling and its associated risks remains vital and can mitigate potential issues.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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