Skip to content
Sponsored Content

How to Keep Children Safe from Online Gambling?

Raising kids has never been easy, from the Stone Age fears of predatory attacks to the strife of the Middle Ages.

Raising kids has never been easy, from the Stone Age fears of predatory attacks to the strife of the Middle Ages. The modern era thankfully has far fewer threats to immediate physical safety, but this also means the risks of today are far more insidious than the past. Keeping kids safe from online gambling can be tricky as detection can be difficult, and resolving something of this nature, with the internet ever present in modern society, is not always straightforward. However, there are plenty of practical steps parents can take to help keep their children safe.

It’s Good to Talk

Mothers and fathers know full well that communication with children can be challenging, as the very young cannot understand complex topics and teenagers are often innately rebellious and more inclined to listen to their peers than their parents. Nevertheless, talking is important, and can be a powerful tool to help keep children safe from betting at online casinos where they have no business being. An explanation of how betting works and that is presents inherent risks will enable offspring to understand that it is not a safe activity for them.

First and foremost, explain the business model of an online betting site. By its very nature, the average player result has to be a loss, otherwise the site would have no net income and it would not be a viable business. Asking a son or daughter if they would accept a situation whereby every day a six-sided dice is rolled and on a 3 or higher they have to pay the parent $10 and on a 1 or 2 the parent gives them $10 can make the situation plain. It won’t take much thought before they reject this offer because they would make a regular loss. Then explain that a casino operates on the same basis, but with a lot of gloss and style on top.

Do not forget to mention the potentially addictive nature of online gambling too. There’s a reason why so many independent organizations exist to help with mental health and addictions, including gambling. Losing money is obviously bad, but doing so via an addictive habit can mean the losses really stack up. And children tend not to be flush with cash to start with, which means they end up with nothing or, worse, stealing.

A good way forward can be to point out alternatives. People generally, and children in particular, are less likely to listen to a basic command to stop than a positive suggestion to do something else. Video games are hugely popular and present a much better alternative for young people, (if a child is into strategy games this is especially true, as it’s easy to rack up thousands of hours in Civilization VI or Stellaris). In-depth RPGs like Skyrim (despite being old now) are still popular and can also be a time sink worth hundreds of hours.

Take Note if Money Disappears - or Appears

When adults bet, the aim is always to end up in profit. Sometimes this happens, and sometimes it doesn’t, but an adult should have the financial discipline necessary to play responsibly and stop before any losses put everyday life in jeopardy. When household bills, rent, and new clothes (a constant cost with growing children) are needed, it’s simply irresponsible to wager excessive sums. Children not only lack the same grasp on finances they do not have the same responsibility. An allowance is there largely for entertainment purposes, from books to video games and cinema tickets.

A sad but strong telltale sign of a child betting can be if money around the house suddenly vanishes. We all forget things now and then so a single instance might just be absentmindedness (or a spouse ‘helpfully’ relocating it) but if this happens regularly it might mean it’s being taken. Ironically, the reverse can be true as well. If a child’s bedroom is being cleaned and there’s a stack of notes, the money is coming from somewhere and that’s unlikely to be a good source. One possible origin for an inexplicable abundance of wealth can be a major win from an online casino.

Unfortunately, in that case it is more difficult to persuade a child to stop betting because they have already directly experienced the upside of winning. However, the effort must still be made because even adults can get addicted. And children are even more susceptible to poor decision-making when it comes to managing money, as seen with other tricks to gouge money from them.

Relocating the Family Computer

How to handle online technology and personal devices (laptop, desktop, smartphone, tablet) is something parents all around the world have to consider. One advantage of having a family computer instead of multiple devices, in addition to the obvious cost saving, is that it can be relocated to a more public place. While an adult remotely working from home might legitimately prefer the seclusion of a home office for the peace and quiet, moving a family computer used for schoolwork and such by children to the lounge where other people are constantly around is a good way to keep activity on the straight and narrow.

In the privacy of their own room, a child considering trying to access online betting sites has more opportunity and less risk of discovery. Simply relocating their computer is a good way to help offset this, and also decreases the chance of a son or daughter looking at other material online which is not suitable for the eyes of a minor. This move is unlikely to go down well if the child in question is accustomed to having their own computer in their own room, but if they are doing nothing wrong then there is nothing to worry about, and if they are then it’s more important to find that out and stop it.

Another question is whether a child gets to have a smartphone, as these can be used to access online casinos. Delaying buying one, as well as saving a lot of money, can be one way to go, or some parents might prefer to employ a phone ‘jail’ after a certain hour (a sort of smartphone curfew, with the device literally locked away).

Blocking Gambling Websites

A more specific approach to combating access to online gambling can be achieved by blocking gambling websites, whether that’s on PC or mobile. The advantage of this method over just relocating a computer and limiting smartphone access is that it only applies to the unwanted activity of children using betting websites. Although these are never perfect, and so should not be considered a silver bullet, they are a valuable tool and good option for parents wary of trying to restrict their children too much. Available means of doing this include built-in menus, internet filters, and apps.

The Cisdem gambling blocker is one of the best options and can be used for a Windows PC or Mac. It is a flexible tool which supports the blocking of specific sites and URLs, or it can take the opposite approach and block all websites except those specifically permitted. In addition, websites can be blocked at specific times, which is handy for a parent who wants a technological curfew (never a bad idea and one that can help ensure a better night’s sleep). Parents can block URLs containing certain words (such as ‘casino’ or ‘poker’). This can be broad brush but if a site is undeservedly blocked, if a child sought to read a guide to escaping a casino in a video game, for example, then a specific website can be permitted.

For children’s iPhones, the Screen Time menu can be used to block named URLs in the Limited Adult Websites area. This only applies to Safari, but by setting (in the App Limits section of Screen Time) the available time for selected betting websites to 1 minute this effectively stops it for any browser. Android devices do not have the same functionality so an external tool such as Blocksite for Android should be employed.

Setting a Good Example

Sometimes even blocking the gambling sites/apps from the computer and mobiles may not work because every day new casino sites are launched and it’s hard to keep a track of that. One aspect that should not be overlooked is setting a good example. Children often imitate their parents, for better or worse. If a mother or father is constantly playing casino games then it cannot be a surprise if a son or daughter aspires to do likewise. A better approach is to avoid doing this around children, and instead do activities that are either child-friendly or can be done together (such as multiplayer video games). Creative pastimes, from artwork to music, are another good idea, or cooking, which is practically useful and gets both parent and child away from staring at a screen.

From setting a good example and talking about things, to moving computers and blocking websites, concerned parents have a lot of different ways to help prevent or stop their children betting online.