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Healthy Holiday Gifting

The season of healthy holiday gifting is up on us.  Everyone is frantically trying to tackle responsibilities of work, planning for the holidays, and keeping their family and home afloat.  While all this is going on, people are trying to get last minute gifts, and we want to ask everyone to avoid gambling gifts for youth. 

The Young Brain

Until the age of 24, youths’ brains are growing and developing as they’re are learning who they are and what they like.  They experiment by challenging people and testing boundaries to learn and figure out their place in the world.  This is why they seem to bounce back-and-forth between friendships, hobbies, interests, and how they treat those around them.  During this time of development, youth need healthy activities and role models to stay on track to grow into healthy young adults. 

Gambling activities are not healthy activities for youth. Inviting youth to gamble could put them on track to a future of problems, like an addiction to gambling. 

Youth And Gambling 

Many people who struggle with problem gambling started gambling before the age of 10. Some activities include scratch-offs, bingo, and other forms of gambling that loved ones may not realize could be a problem in the future.  It’s important to know that youth are 2x more likely to struggle with problem gambling than the general public.

Youth who gamble are more likely to be involved in delinquent behavior and crime.  Additionally, they have lower performance in school, and may struggling with other addictive behaviors like using drugs and alcohol. This is why it’s important to make sure that loved ones are getting gifts that are appropriate for our youth’s developing minds. 

Healthy Holiday Gifting for the Developing Brain

There are many healthy holiday gifting options that would be great for a youth’s developing brain. 

  • Puzzles are great for a developing brain. From crossword puzzles to jigsaw puzzles, these activities promote brain development as youth try to solve puzzles of color, shapes, words and language.
  • Language learning has been said to be a great tool for connecting humanity, as well as promoting a healthy brain. There are many different language learning tools.  There are books, apps and online classrooms that would be great gifts for youth.
  • A Rubik’s Cube is a great gift as well. This will take youth time to learn and figure out.  And, once they do, they’ll be able to learn different ways to solve the Rubik’s Cube.

Healthy Holiday Gifting for Physical Health

Another way to promote a healthy brain is through healthy holiday gifting for physical health.

  • Cookbooks are great gifts for kids. Kids are notorious for being picky eaters, but they tend to eat what they make. There’s a growing selection cookbooks geared towards the younger person’s taste, as well as their cooking skills.  This can help youth eat healthier and take care of their bodies.
  • There are many gifts related to physical activities that you can buy. Anything from a new bicycle to a new soccer ball are great gifts to get youth excited about enjoying outdoor physical activities.
  • Finally, get them some new gear to wear. New coats, sneakers or sweatpants are great gifts to get kids prepped for an exciting time of physical activity.

Healthy Holiday Gifting for Emotional Wellness

Let’s not forget their emotional development.

  • Depending on their age, journaling tools could be a great gift. These range from journals with quotes and questions to spark interest, to simple cards with daily thought-provoking statements.  All of which could be great gifts for youths’ emotional development.
  • Since we’re on the topic of writing, any book could be a great gift. Reading a book helps youth relax while using their brain to read.  You can focus on a specific type of book, or just get a random book for them to read.  With a random book choice, you may spark their interest in a new topic.
  • Finally, you can give the gift of an experience. Getting tickets for a museum exhibit or planning a camping trip are two examples of low-cost gifts that help you connect with your youth, as well as place them in a positive environment.

Protect Youth From Problem Gambling

We know to protect our kids from drinking, drugs and unsafe interactions with strangers, and we teach them about those dangers when they are very young. We educate them about risks of certain behaviors and actions. And we can take this same approach and empower youth to avoid gambling behaviors. Some helpful tips include:

  • Talk to your kids. Talk to your kids about gambling, and teach them that, for some people, it can become an addiction. By talking to your kids about problem gambling, you can help them understand the warning signs of an addiction and let them know what to do if they suspect they, or a friend, has a problem.
  • Watch your kid’s spending. If your youth receive an allowance or are given money for activities and special occasions, know where it is spent or how it is saved. Not tracking your children and teenager’s spending means you will be unaware if they use their money for gambling – and if they go into debt.
  • Monitor activity. Youth are spending more time than ever online, and that time isn’t just spent on laptops anymore. Kids have nearly constant access to the Internet through tablets and phones. Gambling opportunities from sports betting to games that mimic the betting and big wins of casino-style games are available everywhere. These easily-accessible apps and websites increase the risk of developing an addiction. As the adult who’s paying for a youth’s phone, cellular and/or wifi, these are your devices are yours that you only allow youth to use. Since these are your devices/services, you have full right to monitor everything they do. 
  • Listen for changes in attitude or habits. One of the many signs of problem gambling is a change in attitude, behavior or habits. Though it’s not uncommon for children and teenagers to be argumentative, watch for signs of money problems, issues with friends or sudden decisions to hang out with new friends, or changes in daily routines.
  • Watch your youth’s peers. If you believe that one of your children’s friends is gambling, take steps to protect your kid and their friends from the consequences gambling, including the risk of an addiction.

Helpful Resources

YOU(th) Decide is a great resource to learn about the risks and consequences of youth gambling.  Here, you’ll find resources specific to youth, parents and/or community influencers on how to empower youth to make healthy choices. This is a great resource that pulls together all new York state youth gambling prevention resources.

Another great resource is The Dangers of Youth Gambling Ebook.  The information covered ranges from youth gambling activities and warning signs to helpful tips and resources.  Reading through this resource will give you a great understanding of youth gambling.

Finally, visit NYProblemGamblingHELP.org.  This site is the New York State hub for regional Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRCs) across the state.  Connect with your local PGRC to learn about local resources that can assist you and your family in treatment and recovery for problem gambling.

Healthy holiday gifting can be exciting. Hopefully you and your loved ones will be getting youth fantastic gifts that show love and support.  Enjoy a wonderful holiday season!