It’s a problem that can be hard to spot. But a gambling habit early in life can become a dangerous addiction.
“It’s more of a growing phenomenon, just because of the expansion of online gambling, and kind of the blurry gray line between gaming and gambling," said Jenna Hotaling, with the Finger Lakes Problem Gambling Resource Center.
Gambling patterns can start at a younger age than you might think. And it can start, with in game purchases.
“My husband’s like what are all these charges, well they’re not my charges, but because the technology is linked to our amazon account, apple iTunes, there are a bunch of apps that were downloaded, I think one kid bought stars to move to the next level," said Marcy Lambrecht, a parent from Fairport.
According to the New York Council on Problem Gambling, almost 40 percent of youth ages 12-17 have gambled this past year. 30% of these youth state that they began gambling at age 10 or younger.
“Youth brains are still developing until the age of 25. So participating in these high risky behaviors can have detrimental consequences in the future because once they’re hooked, they love that fix, they love that high, they’ll continue to seek that out," said Hotaling.
Warning signs can include skipping classes, missing deadlines, grades dropping, preoccupied with gaming/sports numbers, hiding, lying, and escaping.
“Gambling can become a problem because its so easily hidden. So a lot of the time, you can see that someone’s on their phone and not realize they’re placing a bet. Or they could be on a game and adding money to the game for the purpose of gaining up," said Hotaling.
So how can you talk to your kids about this?
“It's super important to talk to your children, starting as early as 4, 5, and 6 I see no problems with. So if something pops up on a screen then talking is the most important thing," said Lambrecht.
You can start by showing interest in what your kid is doing on their phone, tablet, or gaming system. Pick a moment when it’s natural to talk about, explaining gambling ends in losing, more often than it does winning something. A conversation, which can help create a healthy life, early on.