Today’s generation of children and adolescents face a unique and concerning environment regarding gambling. They are growing up in a digital age characterised by constant connectivity, where the gambling industry has evolved significantly during their formative years. With smartphones and social media platforms at their fingertips, the line between gambling and entertainment has blurred, particularly within the realms of video games and social media.

Even with legal restrictions in place, a considerable number of teenagers are engaging in online gambling, a trend facilitated by the industry’s normalisation of betting practices on the internet. Research consistently highlights that a significant percentage of adolescents are involved in gambling activities, and some experience adverse consequences such as diminished academic performance and strained relationships.

The digital era has made gambling more accessible, and certain factors elevate the risk of problematic gambling among young individuals, particularly those who already engage in risky behaviours like alcohol consumption. Simulated gambling in video games can further increase the likelihood of teenagers transitioning to real-money gambling and developing future gambling-related problems.

To navigate children through responsible online gaming and gambling, it’s imperative for parents and caregivers to foster open discussions about media choices. Encouraging a balanced approach to screen time, promoting alternative activities for stress relief and boredom, and setting clear family rules for screen and internet use, including establishing spending limits for online gambling and in-game purchases, can empower children to make informed and responsible decisions in this digital age.

In the recent special report on SchoolTV, Clinical Psychologist Dr Emma Woodward shares some thoughts on youth gambling. You can also look on the Gambling Helpline Aotearoa or the Safer Gambling Aotearoa websites for further help and advice on this topic.

If you have any concerns around this please do not hesitate to contact the counselling department at Rangitoto College or seek some other professional advice.

To access the SchoolTV special report on Gambling and Young people, click here.

Jay Smith, Head of Guidance