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Internet Gambling and Teens

One of the most popular Internet developments over the last decade is the rapidly growing market for gambling websites. Sites that have card games, sports betting, or just about anything else that you can think of to place bets on are wildly popular with the young adult population.

Unfortunately, what happens is that teens will lie about their age or pose as their parents to gain access to a gambling site. Before you know it, the parent’s credit card is maxed out, credit ratings are ruined and there’s no way out of the debt but to pay it off. In the process, the teen becomes addicted to gambling, and finds a way to continue their behavior whatever the cost.

How do you avoid this situation? Obviously, you can’t police your kids’ Internet usage 24 hours a day, but you can educate your child about the dangers of Internet gambling and gambling addiction in general. Research has found that gambling can be as addictive as drugs. Lab rats that are trained to push a button to receive a food pellet will only push it when they are hungry. When the food pellet is randomly dispensed, the rat will continue to push the button even after their hunger has been satisfied. In some cases, the rats will exhaust themselves pressing the button.

This research tells us that it is not so much the flashing lights or even the winning that is the addicting factor in gambling. Rather the chance that they will win becomes addictive, and no matter how often a person loses, an addict will play one more time because that is the time they will win. Casinos and other gambling institutions are keenly aware of this phenomenon and take measures to carefully use it to their advantage. They also take great pains to make sure that nobody under the legal age comes into the establishment, let along touches the machines.

Internet gambling sites rarely take such exhaustive measures. In fact, all it usually takes to gain access to the games themselves is a click on a button that says you’re of legal age. Many gambling sites operate overseas, so the laws of the United States don’t really apply. As long as a credit card is good, the site’s processing software doesn’t know who is entering the information. This allows a teen to steal their parent’s credit card (or anyone else’s in certain extreme cases), enter the information and start betting.

Credit limits can be easily reached- and very quickly. To give you some sort of idea of how fast a credit card can be filled up, we’ll take the example of a card with a credit limit of about $5,000. A risky teenager can lose about $200 on a football game or play blackjack at $5 per hand. In about a week, if they are left unmonitored, anyone can lose literally thousands of dollars. Since your credit card bill comes once a month, it can be as much as thirty days before you realize that you are maxed out or worse, and by that time, your teen can be addicted or you can find yourself too deep in debt to climb out.

There are ways to keep you teen off of Internet gambling sites. The easiest thing to do is to block gambling sites from your computer. Most Internet Service Providers offer some sort of blocking software as part of their package. You can also sit your teen down and educated them about the dangers of gambling addiction. If you suspect that your teen is involved in online gambling, do your best to find out for sure. Gambling can be a dangerous addiction, so don’t miss it.

Have a great day!


Does your teenager have a webcam?

A webcam is a small camera that can be connected to your computer. These cameras let Internet users view other people and places over their computers. Webcam users can broadcast themselves, record videos, or stream video in real time. They are used in the business world for teleconferences and video chats, used by marketers to film product videos, and used by teens to socialize with their friends.

The cameras are quite cheap, and can be purchased at nearly any office supply store for around $30. They are easy to install – often plug and play, and within the budget and capabilities of most teenagers.

Webcams can pose a risk to your teenager, however. It’s easier than you’d think for a predator to convince your teenager to film themselves or transmit video of themselves. Without knowing it, your teenager could be providing fodder for a pedophile or end up on a pornography site.

Internet predators can also use the cameras to transmit videos of themselves. With just a few clicks, they can stream pornographic content directly to your child’s instant messaging program. The cameras are often used to send images of adults and teens engaged in sexual activities, in an attempt to normalize this type of behavior.

Webcams have also been used by teenagers to film illegal activities. YouTube is full of videos of teens drinking, showing off in sexy clothing, and assaulting each other. Most of these videos were filmed with webcams, then uploaded to the site. It’s easier than ever for your teen to be a “star”, and more difficult than ever to remove the video once it’s up. Remember – the internet is forever, and this includes videos.

If you have a webcam in your home, it may be wise to remove it from your computer and only use it when necessary. If your teen’s computer or laptop has a built in webcam, you’ll have to get more creative. Set clear guidelines and rules for internet use, with strict consequences if the rules are broken. It’s even more important to educate your child about how to use a webcam properly, how to respect the privacy of others, and what to do if someone asks them to transmit a video of themselves.

Internet videos are especially appealing to predators, and if they find out your teenager has a webcam, they may approach him or her. It’s important that you educate your teenager about this very real danger, and emphasize how important it is for them to tell you if they are approached online. Doing so is a key part of keeping your teen safe on the internet.

Have a great day!