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Growing Up Online

Online gambling - Tips for parents

Having open and honest talks with your child about what they’re doing and seeing online can help you understand their risks. Talk about what gambling is, how to know when something involves gambling, and how gambling can become a problem.

Check what your child is looking at online and how they interact with others. There are many features in online and video games that include gambling. What looks like an online game may actually be a type of online gambling.

Examples of gambling in games include:

  • earning, losing, or betting points
  • social casino games that let you gamble for fun using pretend (virtual) money
  • loot boxes you buy to get items or tips to help you play the game better or move through levels faster

It’s important to set limits for screen time. Your child needs to spend time doing other things, such as homework, physical activities, sports and hobbies, and household chores. It’s also important that they spend time with friends and family.

Your child learns best by following what you do. Set screen time and gambling limits for yourself as well.

How can you set limits?

Setting limits is an important way to help your child learn how to balance online activities with their other activities.

  • Set up a common place for them to recharge their devices, like in the kitchen.
  • Turn off or put away all electronic devices during certain times of the day. This will give your family more time to eat meals together, go for walks, and spend time with family pets.
  • Remind your child that access to an electronic device is a privilege and there are responsibilities and limits.
  • Help set limits for how much your child can spend on tokens, points, and items they can use to bet or gamble with in the game.

Young people may say:

Possible replies from parents:

“It’s just a game! I’m not betting real money.”

“I know playing that game is fun. But it can lead to problems with gambling as you get older. When playing the game gets in the way of your homework, sleep, or being with your friends, it’s time to set limits and cut down on the time you’re playing.”

“But you buy lottery tickets and bet on sports. What’s the difference?”

“Yes, sometimes I do buy lottery tickets or place bets. It can be fun as long as it doesn’t cause problems, like not being able to buy the things we need, spending time with family or friends, or thinking about it often. Learning to set limits is important.”

“All of my friends have their phones or tablets in their bedrooms. I’m the only one not allowed!”

“Each family has different rules. In our home, we have limits on where you spend your screen time.”

“You used to let me play that game or buy loot boxes. Why not now?”

“I’m setting limits now because I know more about the risks of online games and gambling than I did before.”

“I’ll miss out on everything my friends are doing if I don’t stay connected.”

“I know staying connected with friends is important. Are there other ways to stay connected?”


For help and support, contact: Alberta Health Services Youth Addiction Services at 1-866-332-2322 (toll free in Alberta).  

See the Resources section for more information.

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