When our boys watch sport – what do they really see?
As Australia gears up for the ‘race that stops the nation’ it might be worth stopping to consider the impact the gambling advertising associated with it, and sport as a whole, has on our boys.
Gambling is everywhere in sport. A 2019 research report determined there were, on average, four times more gambling ads during sport TV than during non-sport TV. Children and young people were, therefore, considerably more exposed to gambling advertising when watching sport TV.
Not only is it advertised the traditional way, but gambling is promoted during the games we love in the ‘tipping competitions’ shown during popular sports shows and promoted by the sporting heroes our boys look up to.
Gambling companies are very good at appealing to the younger generation. As our kids grow up with technology at their fingertips, betting organisations develop platforms that provide real time updates and instant gratification. Something our sensation-seeking teenagers find difficult to resist.
Ads often make gambling seem like a game. Bright colours, music and animation are all designed to entice people to log on and stay there. Making the process seem less risky through ‘cash-back’ and ‘bonus bet’ offers is another trick used to soften the perceived impact.
Why are our boys drawn to gambling?
Besides the obvious allure of winning lots of money, research suggests that for many young men, online and offline gambling can:
- reaffirm their masculinity
- offer a virtual getaway from daily routines and stressors
- allow them to form connections with their peers
- power competitive drives
- allow them to have more multifaceted experiences
- give them the opportunity for boasting
In addition to the above, young people feel enormous pressure to fit in. Like underage drinking and smoking, gambling becomes a real problem when kids see it as normal, because they assume that everyone’s doing it. Gambling ads aim to give betting the same sense of normality.
So, what can you do?
Having an open line of communication with your son about gambling and the ads they see is important. And it’s never too early to start the conversation.
- Have you noticed the betting ads on TV?
- Do you think sports betting seems risky?
- Do you think people have to gamble to enjoy sports?
- What do you think about gambling?
- Have any of your friends ever gambled?
- Do you think you always win when you gamble?
It’s important to remind our boys that gambling products are designed so that the betting companies will win. They are a business and must make a profit to survive.
While gambling can be a bit of fun on a day like the Melbourne Cup, parents need to ensure their kids are aware of the serious side to gambling and the potential risks involved.
A brilliant place to find more information on how to talk to your boys about gambling and the ads they see is Love the Game.
Annabel McLean is a mother of two and works at Brighton Grammar, an all-boys school in Melbourne. This article is about Parenting
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