Picture-perfect food, beaches, boats, vacation photos, selfies… All of these flood social media. They portray
a perfect life – that no one possesses!
The pressure to look and feel perfect is higher than ever
before. Everyone can fake their lives. And shove it in everybody else’s faces. You
know all of this isn’t the real truth. But does your adolescent?
Most Influential: Social Media
There’s your child, scrolling through Instagram, Twitter,
Facebook or any other social media platform. They find numerous accounts and
pictures of people with perfect bodies at perfect places posing perfectly. Celebrities
and influencers getting paid to post picture-perfect content.
But do you compare yourself to these images? Doesn’t it make it easier to see the flaws you have? Young girls and boys are extremely susceptible to this. Phys.org reports “teens who reported posting more pictures on social media, had a heightened awareness of their appearance, which was related to feeling more negative about their body.” The more time a teen spends online, the more likely they are to have a negative body image.
But you and I know the pictures that flood social media are unnatural
in pose and quality. No one has perfect skin or a perfect figure. “Fitspiration”
accounts, designed to promote one fitness expert over another, can influence
adolescences to create unhealthy eating habits and extreme exercise regimes.
Fashion models post about their “everyday” life and young minds tend to wonder
why their life is not like that. The standard that is being held up to your
child is unrealistic. One natural outcome is bad feelings about their body, and
How to Help
There is help out there. Psychologytoday.com offers an acronym to help teach your child about this aspect of the media.
F – Filter out content that makes them feel negative in
A – Avoid letting them spend all their time on social media.
C – Careful of comparing others lives to how their life is
E – Evaluate what the differences are between real and fake
It is important to teach your children that real life is not supposed to look perfect. Real life is beautiful in its own, unique way. It is different for everyone. Being comfortable with the way you look with today’s Internet is hard. However, for your child’s sake, teach them that everyone is perfect in their own way, on both the inside and outside.
Have you checked out your local Parent Teacher Association (PTA), or maybe the national PTA website? I recently had the chance to observe an excellent “Digital Families Community Event” held locally by the local PTA president, Kammi Cooper.
Kammi’s PTA Program for Horace Mann Elementary School
The program was provided by the National PTA, but tailored to the local community. It was interactive and fun for the kids and very informative for the parents. The families got to talk about screen time, creating and sharing passwords, favorite apps and social media sites, and what to share and not to share on the Internet.
Kammi was able to put on such an excellent program because she attended a PTA conference and was awarded a small grant to make this program happen. However, you don’t have to wait to benefit from the wonderful resources the National PTA has put together. I went to their website and clicked on the “Family Resources” and then “Digital Safety” buttons.
There I learned that the PTA has multiple programs sponsored by such Internet powerhouses as Google, Facebook, and AT&T. I particularly liked one called “Smart Talk” put together by LifeLock.
The Smart Talk Program
It is an online learning module you can do with your kid. It helps
you answer questions such as:
How much screen time is appropriate?
How to determine who should “friend” or “follow” your account?
When to share photos or videos online?
How to respond to negative comments or posts on social media?
Whether to use location-based services on apps?
At the end, you can print out the decisions you’ve come to and have it as a record (or kind of contract between you and your kid.) I thought it was excellent!
Go Get More Information
Raising a kid in a digital world is tough. You want them (and you)
to be aware of how they spend online. You want them to be mindful of their
online presence and footpring.
Check out your local PTA and see if they are hosting any of these
programs. If they aren’t, why not initiate one yourself?
And keep learning. This isn’t the exact same world you grew up in!
In a world where technology is supposedly making learning “better and better”, is it “better” if every quiz and test is suddenly “easier”?
Welcome to the new world of online test help – the free app Quizlet.
It’s an app initially created to
allow students to study items with online flash cards. It now also has a
variety of learning tools and games.
But Quizlet is today so much more
than a study aid. It’s actually one of the easiest ways to cheat on a quiz ever
But is it popular? Does my kid even know about it? Yes. If not now, then soon. Quizlet itself says more than two-thirds of high school students and one half of undergraduate students use Quizlet.
I first heard about Quizlet my senior year in high school. My accounting teacher told me a fellow classmate of mine had put all of the vocabulary cards on Quizlet. She said I could use it to study if I wanted to. I didn’t. I preferred old fashioned paper back then.
But once I got to college my use of
Quizlet changed dramatically. Suddenly it seemed whenever I couldn’t find the
answer to just about any general question, from any class, I could find it on
Quizlet. From “Intro to Theater” to “Chemistry For Everyone”, Quizlet always
had my back.
What is Quizlet?
So, a guy named Andrew
Sutherfurland made Quizlet back in 2005. I’m sure he never imagined it would
become as big as it is. Quizlet was originally just a site for virtual
flashcards. Like the classic paper flashcards, these cards have two sides; one
side with a term or a question and the other side with the answer.
After creating the cards, you could
just test yourself or play a game like Match and Gravity.
Quizlet recently expanded by introducing Quizlet Diagrams and Quizlet Learn. Quizlet Diagrams is exactly as it sounds; diagrams that help you study. Quizlet Learn is powered by Quizlet’s new learning assistant platform that helps create an individualized study plan for each student. For more information about Quizlet try this Wikipedia link, or the Quizlet website.
How does Quizlet help enable cheating?
After you make a set of cards you make them public. Most students seem to do this. However, most students simply re-type the questions they see in the book or get handed back to them on quizzes or tests.
Because the Quizlet items are public, when a different student types that exact question into a Google search bar, the Quizlet card, or an entire deck of cards, comes up. Click on the link and suddenly you’re on Quizlet with lots of potential cards that match your search phrase. If the page is long, then most student’s know they can simply hit Control+F (on PC) and Command+F (On Mac). It searches for the first word of the question on the page and takes you right to the answer you want, bypassing all the other cards with ease.
Is this a real problem? Institutions of higher education think so. Read this link article about how rampant Quizlet cheating is. Warning: 12 students got suspended from college in this article.
What can you do?
As a parent obviously you want your kid to learn, not cheat. I would suggest monitoring their homework activities. Are they doing their homework with their phone or a computer out? If so, how are they using it?
Also, maybe have a conversation
about the value of a true education. Explain that it will eventually catch up
to them if they are the kid that didn’t learn the content and other kids did.
And, finally, talk about ethics.
There is such a thing as a “slippery slope.” If you become comfortable cheating
in this way, won’t it be easier for you to let yourself cheat in a different
way, maybe on something more serious?
I wish you good luck parenting.
Your kid’s world is not the same world you grew up in.
Maybe you’ve heard of an “influencer” – the newest big thing in advertising. It’s all the rage right now.
It starts with an average person (or celebrity) who has an opinion. They build a following, and finally, brands jump on board and pay them either with cash or free product to promote the brand’s products.
There are influencers in beauty, fashion, fitness, gaming and more. It’s a marketing strategy that’s becoming widely successful. And you should know about it.
Where are influencers
Instagram is the most popular platform for influencers. Just scroll through your ‘Explore Page’ on Instagram to find numerous influencers you might like. But influencers are on other social media platforms, too. YouTube is a popular place, and so is Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.
Popular (adult) influencers
Influencers often are celebrities. This make sense. Its
easier for them to get a large following. In general, more views = more
business. Kylie Jenner is the highest paid celebrity influencer. She earns $1
million per sponsored Instagram post. Selena Gomez receives $800,000 per post
and Christiano Ronaldo earns $750,000. Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé, Dwayne
“The Rock” Johnson, and many more make millions from sponsored posts.
But many top influencers are not household names. For example, here are a few of 2018’s top influencers:
Founder of Huda Beauty
24.3 million Instagram followers
2.2 million YouTube subscribers
Actor in “Expelled,” “The Outfield,” &
Well-known for his Instagram content
20.7 million Instagram followers
3.8 million Facebook followers
Male spokesperson for beauty
Covergirl’s first male spokesmodel
2.1 million Instagram followers
15.9 million YouTube subscribers
HGTV’s Fixer Upper host
Magnolia Homes, renovation business, owner with
Instagram reflects her work and personal life
4.8 million Instagram followers
There’s no doubt celebrities and influencers are having an effect on America’s youth. A company called Mintel (link) has reported that one third of kids aged 6-17 consider their top role models to be social media stars, i.e. influencers. This outranks actors, athletes, musicians and even the President.
Also, for kids, YouTube is the second most common source of information about new entertainment and toys, behind only TV commercials. This is not really a surprise. The current generation of youngsters already represent buying power of over $44 billion (link) with an additional $600 billion of family-spending also influenced by this generation.
Is there a problem here?
Maybe. Many parents don’t know that the FCC regulates TV content for children. However, they don’t have a say over Internet content. For example, there have been long standing rules about how much time in each TV show can show commercials, whether a TV show can show a product (called “product placement”), and if there was any compensation for that product placement. The regulators and protectors of children have long had their eye on TV.
But that’s not the case with social media and Internet influencers. Regulators are only now beginning to ask: “Should there be a visible disclaimer if a social media personality is being paid to endorse a product? Should there be restrictions on how much ‘content’ is pure advertising? Should there be quality checks on content for effects on health and safety?”
But you’re probably saying: “But really, what’s the big deal? It’s just stuff my kid watches to entertain themselves? Is it really having any impact?”
“Yes” is the short answer. Though this is so new not many studies are out yet, one study did find that influencers can change what your child eats. (link)
And the Bloomberg news service recently had a panel discussion on how YouTube’s children-focused channels actually have a lot of paid advertising disguised as content.
Do you need to panic? We don’t yet think so. But it is a good idea to monitor closely what your child is consuming on social media. And to find out who they follow and why they follow them.
Be aware that your kid is marketed to just as heavily as every other target demographic. Companies want their business. Meanwhile, Internet regulations with regard to children are not nearly as sophisticated and ingrained as TV rules, so it’s a bit more “user beware” out there.
And don’t forget – they don’t call them “influencers” because they have NO effect on your kid – or the bottom line of the company…
In a world full of negativity, it can be hard sometimes to spot the positive. Media companies purposefully hype up the bad news because it gives them more customers (and therefore, more money through advertising). Why is that? Because, sadly, we want bad news. Numerous studies have confirmed it (for example, click here and here) and when a news site goes totally positive, it loses readership big time (click here).
But positive things are happening every day. Sometimes they happen slowly, so they don’t make great news stories. For example, CNN recently thought of a few great things that happened in 2018:
North and South Korea ended the Korean War.
The United States’ unemployment rate was the lowest it has been since 1969.
Women in Saudi Arabia were finally allowed to drive.
Researchers developed a 10-minute cancer test.
157 new species were discovered in Southeast Asia.
A record number of minority and gay athletes competed in the Olympics.
NASA’s Insight captured the first sounds of wind on Mars.
The Online World and
So, good things are happening. But what about the online world? Any parent knows that today’s kids are more plugged in than ever before. In fact, one estimate is that, because of smartphones and computer screens, 1 in 3 Internet users are now adolescents or children.
But maybe it’s not all bad (as a recent Huffington Post article declared). A really cool book that came out in Jan. 2019 (link at bottom) argues that several good things are happening because your kid can access the Internet:
Learning is possible anytime. As our own example, consider DuoLingo, a free app that allows anyone to learn a language on their phone 24/7. Dr. Lauber is currently using it to learn Spanish and he says he loves it. Your kid will have more opportunities to learn than any generation before. And online communities are forming around these platforms. This will allow your children to find friends who share their hobbies and interests.
Social media can help tweens strengthen their current relationships. Did you know that more than 90% of teens say they use social media to connect daily with people they know in real life? And that’s even true for gaming. More than 75% say they play with real friends and they feel more connected because of it. Teens say they are staying in close touch with their family members through the Internet. Again, our example? Dr. Lauber says he is hasfar better communication with this three kids, who have left the house, than he ever had with his own parents because of the Internet.
The Internet allows your child to participate in cultural
change and social movements. Did you know Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani
girl that got shot on a bus by the Taliban but went on to win the Nobel Peace
Prize in 2014, started at age 12 by blogging about girl’s rights in 2009? All
over the world young people’s voices are being heard because the Internet
allows that to happen.
Social media can also contribute to volunteering, voting, and donating. Many young people are civically engaged in their own neighborhoods and communities because of the power of social media. In fact, one 16-year-old created an app called “Sit with Us” to help kids find a group of students to eat lunch with so they would never again have to eat lunch alone.
Finally, creativity is also prospering through the Internet. Apps and software for writing, photography, videography, and more, are popular with tween and teens. They allow even the youngest to discover their expressive and creative side.
What can you do?
We think you can help your tween by focusing on the good happening in the world. And by remembering that technology is just a tool. It can be used for good or bad. Teach them appropriate use of each app or software they install. And role model good behavior. Maybe you can show them how to learn about volunteering opportunities in their own community. Or how to turn their passion for any social cause into progress and action by learning how to communicate and possibly mobilize their community.
In the end you have a far greater influence on your tween/teen than they are likely to admit. Keep it positive. Balance out all of that “bad news” media. And teach that an act of kindness really does go a long way. Even farther, in many ways, than the Internet.
For more good stuff like this, check out Diana Graber’s great book “Raising Humans in a Digital World”.
FOMO is the feeling that everyone else is a part of something you’re not. FOMO is the “Fear Of Missing Out”.
It’s all your friends hanging out
without you, maybe because you declined to go in the first place or maybe you
weren’t even invited.
Parents, does it feel like your child is spending more time at their friends’ house than at yours? Does it seem like they value the opinion of their friends more than your parental advice?
That’s natural. Kids pull away from their parents and look to their peers for acceptance.
FOMO is nothing new. Why are we bringing it up now?
Because your kids are more connected now.
They make plans with their friends in their group text and can see the progression of the plans before their very eyes. If they decline to attend the plans, they are now sitting on the sidelines as the rest of their friends excitedly chatter along, blowing up the phone of those who opted out.
“But they chose not to go”, you say.
Sometimes kids want to be responsible.
(Yes, it does still happen.) They know studying for the big test will benefit
them more than seeing the newest blockbuster.
Sometimes they can’t go without a choice. Family obligations, sports practices, after school jobs. Maybe you even grounded them from going out. Many times, plans with a big group of friends just don’t fit in the schedule or the budget.
The point is, even if your child isn’t there in person, they still see what’s going on. That little thing called social media that keeps your kids glued to their phones all day is the king at creating FOMO.
Snapchat stories. Instagram posts. The group text. They are all constant reminders of the event your kid diddn’t attend. The fun they’re missing out on. The inside jokes they won’t be a part of because “you had to be there to understand.”
FOMO can make people (of any age, not just teenagers) anxious. We get low self-esteem from constantly seeing what everyone else is doing. It’s hard to sit at home while it seems like everyone else is doing something exciting and Instagram-worthy.
You’ve definitely experienced it,
Come on, parents. You’ve had your friends ask if you and your significant other want to join them for dinner. Maybe a sporting event. And you’ve had to remind them that being a parent means you can’t always go somewhere at the drop of a hat. So you politely decline because it’s easier than figuring out who’s going to watch the kids and the pet. Then you come across your friend’s pictures of the dinner or game on Facebook and you feel a twinge of jealousy because they found someone else to take your place.
F. O. M. O.
But it’s constant for your kid. Their friends post way more than your friends do. And, of course, their teenagers. So they’re not always as polite about it as grown ups are.
They said “no” to plans. How can you help relieve some of the FOMO?
These tips might help.
Distract them. Keep them off their phones while the plans are going on. If they’re studying, encourage a snack break and use the time to catch up with them about what’s going on in their life.
Sit down with them and reinforce the idea that they won’t always be able to drop everything to go have fun. Remind them of the reason they can’t go out, like maybe sports or homework. This reason will be more beneficial to them down the line than whatever their friends chose to do that night.
In the same manner as #2, have a real adult conversation with them if the problem is finances. Finances is a tricky topic to talk about with kids and teenagers. They are most likely still depending on you for the money they use to go out. Maybe they’re too young to realize that you have actual expenses that don’t allow for you to give 50% of what you make to your kid’s entertainment fund. It will get easier as they get older. Start teaching them how to manage their own money, and they will quickly learn how easy it is to spend money on frivolous things when more important things need your attention and earnings – and yet they can’t do that.
Instagram fabulously documents a teenager’s life. It shows the highs of every event: the laughs, the candid moments, the wide smiles.
What could better serve as the diary for an adolescent, impressionable young soul?
The answer? Just about anything else. Because while Instagram looks fun on the surface, the need for “the perfect looking life” takes a terrible toll on the self-esteem of teenagers (and let’s be honest, adults, too).
For those of you who may not be aware of a typical night scrolling through the Instagram Explore page, I’ll go through it for you.
The Explore page is catered toward your personal interests. The more you search something – say a television show – the more you will see actors associated with the show and clips showing small parts of the show. It’s meant to be harmless.
Until your searches get the better of you.
Since beginning my college break, I’ve decided to spend my time trying to get back in shape. This past semester didn’t leave me with a lot of time to keep up with a good workout regimen, so I’ve used the free time to go for a couple of runs. Now, I find myself clicking on more posts on Instagram that have to do with fitness.
The only problem is that the people who run Instagram fitness accounts look FANTASTIC. Seriously, I don’t understand how some of these girls look so good when they’re working out.
I’ve learned that a lot of people my age, especially women, fall into this hole. The so-called “Instagram models”. They acquire enough followers to get sponsorships to promote items like slimming tea and hair vitamins. They also display their perfectly thin waists and impeccable sense of style that no normal teenager or young adult would be able to maintain or afford.
I wanted to look up new workouts or get some fitness inspiration. And I found that. But what I also found was a sense of self-hatred and inadequacy.
And probably the worst thing to think while trying to better yourself:
“I’ll never look like her, so why even bother trying?”
Why? Because fitness should be for health reasons not for appearances!!
But I digress.
With New Years resolutions in full swing, I urge you to reach out to your children if they’ve expressed an interest in improving themselves via health and fitness. I guarantee they will find themselves on the Instagram Explore page sooner or later.
Want to hear some more thoughts on this? Look here.
You can help. Here are some things to keep in mind when discussing this with your kids:
1. Instagram is not real life. Yes, those might be real people, but picture-editing apps make up a large part of the Instagram experience, and that should not be forgotten.
2. Your child’s personal journey should not try to match anyone else’s. That fitness model has been training for years, and there’s no way you’ll be able to do as many reps/have those abs right away/look as effortless as that model does. If they really want to have someone to workout with, help them find an able friend who can be their workout buddy.
3. They should separate social media from any form of bettering themselves. Maybe try a social media cleanse. Help them manage their time on social media. It will help their goals in the long run.
4. Posting their own pictures isn’t always a bad thing, especially if they have an amazing group of friends as a support system. Friends love to hype up their friends. Just make sure your child is doing it through confidence and not the need for validation and likes. (Note: This is a very slippery slope.)
5. Going off No. 4, making a group chat with friends can be a good alternative. Teenagers rely on their friend’s opinions for everything, so creating a chat with the main purpose of restoring each other’s self-esteem could play to all of the friends’ benefit.
The worst thing that can happen is your child loses motivation to reach their goals or surrenders their self-esteem. Once that is lost, social media has an even greater grasp on the child. Don’t let your child fall into the pattern of looking at themselves as subordinate.
It is very unlikely that you as a parent know about finsta’s. What is a finsta? A “fake” Instagram account used for posting content that your children don’t want on their “real” Instagram page. From personal experience I can tell you that content usually includes random unedited pictures and captions of their life. Often pretty harmless stuff.
But might (and have) strayed to posting inappropriate pictures involving nudity and drugs/alcohol. Typically girls have finstas, although boys can have them too. They typically set them to “private” and give them an unusual name so only their closest friends can see what they post. Finstas have been around for a while.
Why do teens have
Recently, USATODAY.com talked about how older teens and college students have a finsta because of the fear that employers monitor what their employee does on social media. I think that probably does not apply that often. Maybe that’s why people with finstas from their high school life keep them. But most people I know that have a finsta have one because they don’t want boys or their parents to see what their posting.
Interestingly, finstas are kind of the opposite of people’s real Instagram account. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution observed, “Everyone kind of knows that no one’s Instagram life is their real life… You’re really tailoring all the photos and editing them and making sure that they look perfect. On your Finstagram, it’s supposed to be like the complete opposite.”
This tendency to let your finsta be more raw and unedited may be the reason sometimes inappropriate content appears.
Should you as a parent be concerned?
One source, Blog.hubspot.com doesn’t think finstas are all bad. They recently wrote about how finstas might allow your child an opportunity to express the unedited side of their life with their trusted friends. Maybe its a good way from to practice expressing themselves. I think if your child is using their finsta for fun, instead of hiding inappropriate things, you may have nothing to worry about. But of course, how would you know, is the big question.
I CAN report that my friends seem to post random photos of themselves on their finstas with captions about boy troubles, stressing out about school, etc…. Most do not post anything inappropriate. It is more of a “spam account” where they can rant about daily struggles to close friends.
So the bottom line is, like any social media account your child has, you may want to keep on eye it. The trouble they can get in to is just too big to ignore. But hopefully, if things are within bounds, you’ll respect their privacy. In their eyes it might be like reading their diary. Want to raise that question with them?Maybe you can explain that, unlike a diary, people don’t usually post any inappropriate pictures in their diary. And a diary really is private. Unlike a finsta.
Odds are your child will become part of a cyberbullying scheme at some point in their young life. It’s unfortunately just one of the consequences of the new “digital age”. The only question that is relevant is: will they be on the giving end or the receiving end? (I’ll admit for the moment there may be a few in the middle just “watching”.)
So what is cyberbullying?
By definition it is bullying that takes place over the internet, cellphones, or social media. Yes, these things overlap. Social media is on their phone, etc… Cyberbullying is posting or sending inappropriate, negative, or private information about someone to threaten, harass, or embarrass them.
My personal story about cyberbullying
I was in middle school and a new girl moved to my school. That girl and I were similar in ways and I became envious of her. I accused her of stealing my friends. Of course, I now realize my friends liked her because she was just like me. I can now confess we both did our share of cyberbullying each other. Usually on social media or via text message. A lot of hurtful things were said, and because of it, we both lost some friends. We did not get along for quite a while and we did get in trouble with our parents for the way we were acting.
Looking back on the situation, it was ridiculous. None of those things needed to be said/written, and all of those things are still out there – in/on the internet somewhere.
Of course, we eventually got over it and became good friends. Nobody changes as much as a teenager.
So isn’t it ironic that the ever-permanent internet is where today’s teens spend so much of their time? Teens need to change. The internet is permanent. Not really a good match.
What should you be concerned about? Everything…
Anything your kid posts on the internet can become public and it might affect online reputation. Don’t believe them when they say “it will disappear in a few seconds on Snapchat”. (Read our blog post about Snapchat to learn more.)
Stopbullying.gov says cyberbullying is persistent, permanent and hard to notice. Dr. Lauber told us a story about when he left school, he was safe from bullying as a young kid. But his kids experienced even in his house because they were online. There’s no longer any safe place!
Did you know…
the 2015 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying?
the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates an estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey?
Cyberbullying is not always easy to catch. Unless your child shows or tells you, or you’re very knowledgeable on their social life (texting, social media, etc…), you may be unaware of what is going on. Parents and children use technology differently. This makes it difficult to know when cyberbullying may be happening. Below is a graph from cyberbullying.org on cyberbullying victimization, along with some signs of cyberbullying and some helpful tips.
Is your child bullying or being bullied?
Cyberbullying happens to children of all ages at least once in their lives and at any time of any day. KidsHealth.org mentions some signs of cyberbullying:
being emotionally upset during or after using the internet or the phone
being very secretive or protective of one’s digital life
avoiding school or group gatherings
changes in mood, behavior, sleep or appetite
wanting to stop using the computer or cellphone
being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
avoiding discussions about computer or cellphone activities
So what can you do?
I confess, I’m not a parent yet. And maybe my generation will be more prepared for it, since we’re the first generation to live through it. But here’s what I found (and Dr. Lauber endorses these tips!)
Be open and honest with your child. Be someone they can come to for help.
Offer your comfort and support.
Praise them if they seek your help.
Talk to someone like a principle or guidance counselor at their school.
Encourage your child to “be the better person” and not retaliate.
Provide punishment for those who are bullying.
Limit technology time and monitor it.
Learn more about online safety.
Set a good example yourself.
No one wants their child to be bullied or to bully others, but it happens. I believe it always has and always will. But I hope I’m wrong.
All you can do is try your best and help your child make good choices. The good news is I lived through it. Your child will to.
If you’re like most parents, you’re probably encouraging your kids to get into sports. I was encouraged like that. So was Dr. Lauber. You probably think you’re helping them avoid dangers, like drug addiction, obesity, teen pregnancy…
My friends and I were always playing backyard football, competing with sports video games, diving into fantasy leagues or consuming all the sports on television we could.
Never did it dawn on our parents that they might be creating a problem: an obsession with sports.
By the time we got to college we were playing fantasy sports competitively, but this included betting on the games. We extended our competitiveness into late night poker games. It started out as fun, but gradually winning became more about the money than the pride. We eventually started betting more: our fantasy league buy-ins became $50 rather than $20. Our poker buy-ins went from $10 to $30 and then $70.
I confess once I saw my friends attempting to gamble on just about everything, I stepped back. They were so consumed for a while they were making weekly casino trips – while poor college students! They were also making sports bets on teams for games years down the road – for hundreds of dollars.
Luckily, most of my friends eventually realized this was not a good hobby for them. But only after losing thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately, our state, Pennsylvania just officially declared sports gambling legal. I’m afraid for my friends. Here is what you need to know to make sure your kid doesn’t fall victim to a sports gambling addiction.
What did Pennsylvania (and maybe your state) do?
The new Pennsylvania law permits wagering “by any system or method,” including in person, on the internet and mobile. This means that while a person can go to registered casinos to place a bet on sports, they can also use their phone, tablet, computer or other device to make bets (as long as they are within the state borders.)
What can people legally bet on?
With the law change, people can legally bet on just about every sport. Wagering can be placed on popular sports in the U.S. such as football, baseball or basketball, but people can also bet on more obscure sports such as cricket, Formula 1 racing and golf.
While people can still make traditional wagers, such as betting against the spread or taking the over or under, they can also bet on just about anything with the new trend of “prop bets.” For example, they can now bet on the length of the national anthem, whether the coin toss is heads or tails, and whether there will be a rain delay or not? Yes, people can now bet on pretty much anything.
What are the legal requirements to make a wager?
Anyone over the age of 21 can legally bet on sports in Pennsylvania. The key word here is, “legally.” While it is still “illegal” to bet on sports while you are underage, it is still not difficult to do so. Take it from a college student – it is similar to drinking underage. If you want to do it, someone will help you out. By the way, did you know that 11% of the US’s entire alcohol output every year is drunk by 12-19 year olds? I’m guessing the same will be true for sports gambling pretty soon.
What is the deal with daily fantasy sports apps, such as Fan Dual and Draft Kings?
Fantasy sports is usually a season long game held between a league of people who pick rosters of players. The most popular sport is currently the NFL. Friends make points off of certain players, such as their yards per game, receptions and touchdowns.
The winner generally is the person with the best players throughout the entire season. While many fantasy football league winners receive nothing but bragging rights, some win a few thousand dollars. It’s big league betting in some circles.
Daily fantasy sports, or “DFS” is similar. But instead of taking place throughout an entire season, it is condensed down into a single day or week. So, while bettor doesn’t have to commit serious time to play a DFS app, it is still very easy to commit large amounts of money.
Many of these games/apps “sell” themselves by guaranteeing prize pools, “cash games”, Head-to-Head matchups and 50/50 games. Some now offer to match a newbie’s initial investment! The appeal these games/apps is growing from year to year.
So, how is this harmful?
Presently, 2.6% of the U.S. population has a gambling addiction. Over 50 percent of these 10 million Americans are between the ages of 16 to 24. They are by far the most affected age group.
Of the 10 million people who have this issue, over 50 percent of them fall between the age range of 16-24. They are by far the most affected age group, according to the North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help.
Sports betting isn’t always a problem, but gambling addiction occurs once gambling behavior begins to either cause distress, become a habit, leads to financial stress or disturbs everyday life and functioning.
DFS companies are spending millions to advertise to your kid. The risk is only growing larger. Educate yourself and your kids. I’m betting teenage “bankruptcy” is only going to grow. Pun intended.