Photo/ Courtesy of Pabak Sarkar via Flickr [bit.ly/1UmfonU]

Teens at risk from gambling

By  Julie Hall, Youth Speak News
  • May 1, 2016

There is no hiding the fact that gambling is a popular pastime amongst adults. Whether it be betting on sports, purchasing lotto tickets or visiting a casino, the gambling world is vast. But what most people don’t realize is that gambling has also become a rising problem with the younger generation.

Teenage gambling is one of the fastest growing addictions today. Within the past 15 years, the number of young people gambling has risen drastically.

Many researchers are linking this fact to the recent advancements in virtual or online gambling. 

Recent studies conducted by researchers from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have shown that nearly 10 per cent of teens in three Canadian provinces have participated in online gambling within a three-month period. It further showed that nearly 42 per cent of teens admitted to gambling money or something of value in either offline or online activities.

Teens succumb to gambling addictions at rates between two and four times the rate of adults. The earlier a person begins to gamble, the more likely they are to become addicted to such behaviour later in life. The adolescent brain is extremely susceptible to developing addictions from a young age and this is what makes online gambling such a risk.

Similar to drug and alcohol addictions, it feeds on boredom among young people and has direct correlations to depression, loneliness and stress.

While researching this topic, I came across multiple web sites with advertisements for gambling sites on the sidebars. I thought to myself about how strange it was that I was researching the cons, meanwhile my own computer was attempting to broadcast the shiny side of things to me. This is when I realized that gambling is simply a societal weakness.

Today’s youth live in a modernized world where legalized gambling is not only socially acceptable, but rather visible and widely promoted. This needs to stop. Together, we can fight for change within communities and our country.

What the glorification of gambling doesn’t show is the depression, anxiety, loss, fear, regret and ultimately draining truth behind the addiction. We have progressed to having images on the cartons of cigarettes in order to deter people from smoking. Why then have we not begun broadcasting the dangers of gambling to the youth who are becoming more and more involved in its online components?

This is a growing industry which is threatening the still developing brains of young people. Now is the time to question the gambling world and fight for change in the accessibility of online gambling web sites.

St. Bernardino of Siena, patron saint for gambling addicts, please pray for us.

(Hall, 17, is a candidate for first-year social service work at Humber College in Toronto, Ont.)

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