The Super Bowl is rapidly approaching. This football game is one of the most watched sports events of the year. It is also one of the most gambled on games, and can be a big concern for families with youth, especially with our increased availability of mobile sports betting..
Gambling and the Super Bowl
Super Bowl media attention is everywhere. You can hear about it on the news, on sports stations, in the newspapers and everywhere else. Many schools have square charts in the faculty room where staff can participate in gambling on who they believe would win or the points or on how long the national anthem will last, and anything else. Some people literally gamble on every aspect of the game.
Youth see this. They see the media attention. They see the discussions of squares or parlays. They see the additional ads for mobile sports betting availability. They know what is happening, they hear what we’re all saying, and they are excited to be a part of it. We need to take action, and that action starts with talking to our youth about the risks of gambling.
The Risks of Youth Gambling
Youth are at an increased risk for developing a problem with any gambling because of their brain development. Youth are growing and earning independence by acting responsibly, but they are still youth. We need to keep in mind that their brains do not fully develop until about the age of 25. At this point, and only at this point, is the brain fully prepared to make sound judgement calls.
Without a fully developed brain to make healthy decisions, youth are very impressionable. The number of ads for mobile sports betting, the amount of discussion about gambling on the Super Bowl in the media, and discussions they hear through friends, family and anywhere else, is overwhelming for anyone. This is especially true for youth.
Families Can Take Action
There are many things you can do to take action and support youth gambling prevention in your home. Many parents, especially those of teenagers, think their kids aren’t listening, but they are. Your voice matters, your decisions matter, and your rules matter because no matter how tough they think they are, they’re still kids.
Have a conversation
Have a conversation about gambling and mobile sports betting with your youth. Talk about the risks and consequences of any youth gambling. Discuss the short-lived joy they might get from gambling. Change the focus. Instead of talking a whole lot about gambling and why it’s risky, start talking about their dreams.
What do they want to buy? What do they want to save for? What do they aspire to do or be? What do they want to do to get to their dreams? Discussing long-term goals and dreams can help keep them focused on positive, healthy things they aspire.
Triggers are anything that causes an individual to feel the urge to do something, like gamble. For youth, that may be peer pressure. It may be the ads and the glam life that the ads show. For some, their desire to gamble may be driven through their need to look cool, or show they know more about sports.
You can learn about these triggers by asking simple questions, such as:
- Are you looking for money?
- If you lose your money, what will you need to do to earn back what you lost?
- Are you trying to prove how cool you are?
- Are there other ways to prove you know more about sports, like a trivia game?
These discussion questions will help start conversations, help get youth thinking about their decisions, and could lead to a great, improved connection between you and your youth.
Alternative activities can be different ways to enjoy the Super Bowl. These ways include:
- Watching it with different people who aren’t gambling,
- Keeping phones away to avoid mobile sports betting,
- Discussing the planned use of money,
- Avoiding media and social media, and
- Planning activities that have nothing to do with the Super Bowl to do before, during and/or after.
For youth who want to avoid the Super Bowl, so they don’t find themselves gambling, there are many other things to do during that time. Ideas to spend time together can include:
- Bike riding,
- Video games,
- Repainting their room, or
- Anything else that takes time, energy and focus away from the Super Bowl.
Really, the options are limitless. And if you’re unsure what to do, ask youth to find out the best way to fill that time. Making sure there’s a plan is the best preventative care.
Youth gambling is a risky activity with consequences that span beyond money. It is our responsibility to help keep our youth safe and healthy by avoiding youth gambling.
If you need additional support, or your youth is struggling with a gambling problem, please reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center at NYProblemGamblingHELP.org. There you can connect with a dedicated professional eager to help you identify local resources and get connected to local support as desired. There is no pressure with that call; only care and concern. Your local Problem Gambling Resource Center is HERE TO HELP.