Gambling: The Risky Behavior You Should Talk to Your Pre-Teen About and How To Tackle It
Children 11 – 13
As our children get older, they realize there is often some skill involved in achieving success. By age 10-12, most children understand that some games, sports, or activities take effort or skill to win.
If you have a middle school-aged child, chances are they’re playing video games, many of which may mimic some aspects of gambling. At this age, while children tend to prefer skill games, it’s hard to resist the fun and ease of a big win by random chance. Around this age they may start to enjoy packs of Pokemon Cards or other bundled prizes.
“Loot” boxes are in-game rewards you can win or buy. The contents of “loot” boxes are completely random, and the outcome is always based on luck. Players can find these boxes within normal gameplay, or can purchase them without knowledge of what’s inside. The potential rewards help players advance further in the game.
The luck involved, and the unlikelihood of winning anything great, is extremely similar to gambling. The excitement of winning or progressing further in the game provides a thrill that keeps gamers engaged and coming back for more.
The line between gambling and gaming is getting blurrier every day. Normalizing the behavior that you need to pay for something with an unknown value that depends on chance could potentially lead to an openness to gambling and other risky behaviors in the future.
Talk and tips
For children 11- 13
Understand the types of games your kids play:
Over ⅔’s of parents play video games with their children at least once a week. The more you know about the games your kids are playing, the better you’ll be able to determine if they’re safe. Ask questions about their progress and what they like about the games they’re playing.
Educate them about “loot” boxes:
Explain to them the concept of “loot” boxes. Help them understand that some features in games are used to encourage more playing and more spending. Make them aware of how this can lead to concerning behavior like becoming “obsessed” with only this game and not engaging in other fun activities and spending more money than they can afford.
Monitor their gaming habits:
Set daily time limits. Gaming should be one of many activities your child engages in. Some families consider gaming and other aspects of “screen time” a “treat,” rather than a regular activity. This can also help you steer your children explore other activities that they can develop skills in, become better at, and find fun and rewarding.