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It can be hard to keep track of all the ‘important talks’ you need to have with your kids. But unfortunately, there’s another must-have chat to add to your list: the one about gambling.
You might think it’s a bit early to be talking about gambling. After all, you’re not allowed to bet until you’re 18. However, the reality is that even pre-teen children are being influenced by gambling opportunities, ads, promotions and behaviours.
Whether it’s on TV, on the radio, at the footy ground or popping up in 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. These 5 tips might help you get the conversation started.
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 kid 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 be the right time to talk about gambling. Kids can smell a lecture a mile off so grab opportunities as they arise – perhaps in the car on the way to school or sport 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… as you know, children are good at noticing if what you say doesn’t match what you do!
4. Cover a few basics
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 searching settings, or install software to block gambling sites. To find out more about help to keep kids safe online, visit the iParent website.
Connect Health & Community offers free, 40-minute information sessions for parents through our gambling harm prevention programs for School and Sporting Clubs. For more information, contact Community Educator Tracey Collins on 03 9575 5311 or Bron Martin on 03 9784 8128.
If you or someone close to you is experiencing harm from gambling, we can help with free, confidential therapeutic counselling and financial counselling. Call the Gambler’s Help Southern Intake Line on 03 9575 5353 (business hours) or for 24/7 access, call the Gambler’s Help Line on 1800 858 858 or visit gamblershelp.com.au
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