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How Can Family Help Cope With Problem Gambling?

Gambling is a natural activity inherent to the human being that is present in all cultures.

However, this leisure activity can become a risky behavior that is difficult to control, especially in adolescents and young adults.
Gambling disorder, which has been included as an addictive disorder in the latest edition of the DSM, consists of persistent and recurrent gambling behavior despite the negative consequences it has on all aspects of the person's life, including difficulties personal, relational, vocational and financial. In this sense, the literature indicates that adults with gambling disorder begin with problem behaviors during adolescence, as this is a period of particular biological and psychological vulnerability. Added to this vulnerability is the enormous availability of the game, it has an easy access and its publicity, which encourages adolescents to start playing and motivate them to earn money. Consequently, the suspicion has arisen that the incidence of the problem may also be serious at younger ages and not only in adulthood. The scientific community points out that gambling has become one of the most frequent addictive behaviors in adolescents. Therefore, there is a need to educate family members and the educational community on responsible gambling. Tips aimed at families and the educational community to prevent addictive gambling behaviors in adolescents and young adults:

Accept the use of the internet

The educational community and families must accept that the internet is part of the leisure of young people. Therefore, it is not advisable to prohibit them from accessing the Internet. Therefore, there is a need to educate in responsible and controlled use, as well as to ensure that the content that young people have access to from their devices is appropriate for their age. There is a need to monitor the websites that minors access.

Parental filters are available in most browsers; however, they can also use filtering solutions that allow parents to block their children's access to online gaming websites.

Establish rules for internet connection and use of electronic devices

Caregivers and parents must establish rules for Internet connection and use of electronic devices, taking into account the adolescent's age, maturity, responsibility, and lifestyle, among other factors.

Talk to them

It is essential to establish spaces for dialogue and communication at home and at school where adolescents can express themselves freely. It is necessary to speak openly and inform about the risks of gambling and indicate that gambling is not a source of income.

Offer a suitable model

Adults act as a reference model for adolescents, so we have the responsibility to take care of our behaviors. It is recommended not to expose young people to display gambling behaviors. However, when you are gambling there are minors around, you must take extreme precautions.

Promote other forms of leisure

In the era in which we live, it is becoming an almost impossible task to take advantage of leisure moments if it is not using a screen. An especially more difficult task for children who are born digital natives. For this reason, it is important that parents, caregivers and teachers offer them alternatives to carry out other leisure activities that are screen-free, such as outdoor sports and screen-free games. Also, nowadays due to all the options we have available, adolescents are used to being constantly connected to electronic devices. This makes them overstimulated and not used to spending time doing nothing. Therefore, it is essential to educate them in tolerance to boredom.

Avoid using electronic devices as a tool to alleviate unpleasant feelings

Currently, it is common to find that parents, caregivers and teachers when children cry or express their discomfort, we immediately offer them the tablet, mobile or video console to calm them down. Thus, they learn that electronic devices can act as emotional regulators. This learning is highly dangerous because in adolescence, people can use gambling behavior as an emotional regulator.


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Cristina Varela Galan
Cristina Varela Galan
1 December 2022 13:7