Parents are often looking for ways to approach difficult conversations with their kids. Topics like drugs, alcohol, sex and bullying are often in the mix. A chat about under-age gambling, however, is rarely on the radar.
But this has to change. On average, there is one teenager with a gambling problem in every Australian classroom. Even more concerning is the fact one in five adults with a betting problem started before they turned 18.
On average, there is one teenager with a gambling problem in every Australian classroom.
But why is this happening? The experts say gambling is becoming increasingly normalised as entertainment and as part of sport. Kids are exposed to over two hours of betting advertising every week.
Kid and Bet: two words that should never go together
In 2013, the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation developed KidBet, a campaign to raise awareness of the effects of exposing young people to gambling, in particular, sports betting.
Targeting parents of children under 18, KidBet pointed out that any association between kids and betting is problematic and potentially damaging.
The cornerstone of the campaign, a TV ad, showed the absurdity of a primary-school kid encouraging other kids to place bets with his sports betting agency KidBet.
The script intentionally used controversial lines like, 'My dad never taught me how to kick a footy, he taught me the stats and the odds instead', and 'No bet is too small, we'll take 20 cents'.
'My dad never taught me how to kick a footy, he taught me the stats and the odds instead.'
The aim was to shock parents into sitting up and paying attention to the message and the statistics on youth gambling displayed between scenes.
The time to raise betting with your kids is now
The ad helps parents identify that pivotal point in time to have a conversation about betting with their kids. At the end, it directs them to kidbet.com.au, where they can find helpful tools and information to support the conversation.
Rather than scaring them about the impact of problem gambling, the campaign asks parents to consider and monitor their children's exposure and access to betting, scrutinise their own betting, and help their children approach gambling responsibly, once they reach the legal age.
Why KidBet is as important as ever
The initial KidBet campaign and accompanying public relations push reached over 4 million people through TV, radio, online and print media. The KidBet website has been visited by over 66,000 people and the video has been viewed over 10,000 times.
Despite these efforts, the foundation's work has only just begun. A 2011 study showed that an alarming 77 per cent of adolescents had gambled in some form during the past 12 months.
Foundation chief executive Serge Sardo says the time for parents and the wider community to act is now.
'Our kids are being overwhelmingly exposed to gambling products through games, apps and websites,' he says. 'It makes sense to act now before gambling becomes even more ingrained in adolescent culture.'
A 2011 study showed that an alarming 77 per cent of adolescents had gambled in some form during the past 12 months.
Don't know where to begin? Read more on why parents should be worried about gambling ads on YouTube, including information about our new video guide for talking to teens about gambling.
You can also start taking note of the number of times your kids are exposed to sports betting ads, are talking about the odds instead of the teams, or even using betting lingo. You might be surprised to find it's time for a chat.