Talking to Youth about Online Gambling

Research shows that only a third of parents have discussed gambling with their children[1]. This issue is seen as minor, mainly because parents are generally unaware of their kids’ participation in these sorts of activities. It is important to talk about it, though: research has found that family members' views about gambling are a major influence on how likely youth are to gamble.[2]

Online games of chance may seem innocuous, but the internet gambling industry is growing exponentially with more jurisdictions coming onboard – including several Canadian provinces. It’s a good idea to start conversations about online gaming with young people at an early age.

  • Discuss gambling and the risks involved: from compulsive behaviours to financial problems.
  • Make sure your kids understand that online purchases can cost real money. If they want to buy things online, including loot boxes, have them do it with gift cards to set a limit on what they're able to spend.
  • Install ad-blockers like Privacy Badger, Adblock Plus and Disconnect Kids on your children's browsers and devices to reduce the number of gambling ads they see. Set YouTube on Restricted mode and have your kids give their real age when signing up for social networks so they'll be shown fewer age-inappropriate ads there.
  • Remind kids that there are so many gambling sites on the internet because they make much more money than they give away to players.
  • Take the opportunity to teach your kids about probabilities – an Ontario study found that most youth have vague or erroneous ideas of what their chances really are.[3] For example, they believe they have a better chance of winning if they use random numbers instead of numbers that are in a sequence.
  • Adults should examine their own habits in this area and remember that kids model themselves after the trusted adults in their lives.



[1] DeCock, R., Zaman, B., Van Mechelen, M., & Huyghe, J. (2018). Early Gambling Behaviour in Online Games. In Digital Parenting. The Challenges for Families in the Digital Age. (pp. 125–133). Göteborg: Nordicom.

[2] Pitt, H., Thomas, S. L., Bestman, A., Daube, M., & Derevensky, J. (2017). Factors that influence children’s gambling attitudes and consumption intentions: lessons for gambling harm prevention research, policies and advocacy strategies. Harm Reduction Journal, 14(1). doi: 10.1186/s12954-017-0136-3

[3] Wiebe, J., & Falkowski-Ham, A. (2003). Understanding the Audience: The Key to Preventing Youth Gambling Problems. Responsible Gambling Council.