During this time of year, it can be fun to shop for gifts. More often than not, however, we hit a point where we are D-O-N-E and have no more energy for creativity. We look for easy and quick. Here at CMC, we absolutely get that! It’s fine to make things easier for yourself, but our friends at Ohio for Responsible Gambling have alerted us to a few things to watch out for when giving gifts to children. And the moms here at Cincinnati Mom Collective have contributed some ideas for safe gifting.
Gift to Skip #1
Lottery tickets. They’re fun to scratch off, they come with that element of excitement and they’re an easy gift for people of all ages, right?
Wrong. Here’s why.
Lottery tickets may make great gifts for adults, but they aren’t appropriate for children. Research shows that exposure to gambling behaviors at a young age can lead to dangerous gambling disorders later in life. In fact, children introduced to gambling by age 12 are four times more likely to develop a gambling problem. It seems like harmless fun to scratch off those little boxes on a ticket, but that rush of excitement we feel when we think we might win can be addictive and even worse when kids win. Those gambling disorders have also been linked to other addictive behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drug use.
Gift to Give #1
Games! Board games! Seriously. Board games are perfect when you’re focusing on safe gifting. We joke and interact during board games – a great way to stay connected. My family loves game night, and it has become a yearly Christmas tradition to give ourselves a new game. While we play it for the first time, we enjoy Christmas cookies and cocoa. Sometimes, it’s a hit and we add it to our regular repertoire. Other times it’s a flop, and it’s just good for a laugh. No matter what, though, it’s great family time!
Games we love here at Cincinnati Mom Collective:
8 and older (ish): Code Names, Set, Quirkle, Prime Climb, Sequence, SushiGo, Go Nuts for Donuts, Ticket to Ride, Exploding Kittens, Scattegories
5 and up (or thereabouts): Life, Clue, Uno, Uno Attack, Mousetrap, Monopoly, Parcheesi, Aggravation
Any age: Yeti in My Spaghetti, Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Memory, Don’t Break the Ice, and Cootie
Gift to Skip #2
No problem. If we don’t give the kids lottery tickets, we don’t need to worry, right?
Welllllll…. Not so fast.
You know all those video games our kids love to play? We hear them discussing which skin they found in their latest loot box. Or, they mention how many extra coins they won when they spun the wheel in their favorite game. These seemingly harmless games are one more way that today’s digital games create the habit of gambling. The shift from gaming habit to gambling problem is subtle. But, the risks aren’t. Many of the games youth play for hours on end simulate the same excitement experienced by gamblers.
Now, before you throw out every mobile device, gaming system, and SmartTV in the house, let’s take a step back. No panicking, mamas! What can we do to ensure responsible use of these fun things our kids love? (And, we all know how much they love their screen time!)
- Talk to your kids. As with most sensitive issues, it’s best to be honest and open with your children about your concerns.
- Explain that gambling results in losses more often than wins, and teach them that underage gambling is illegal.
- Encourage healthy spending. Talk with your child about how they plan to spend money they have from after-school jobs or allowance.
- Limit screen (and game) time. You probably feel like a broken record when telling the kids that they’ve had enough screen time, but keep doing it. They’re not good at limiting their own screen time, so we need to do it for them.
Gift to Give #2
Crafts, puzzles, and books.
Yup. We’re going back to basics, but as you probably know, even the basics aren’t all that basic anymore. At stores like Michael’s and other craft stores, you can find craft kits for kids of all ages, and not just for girls. My 12-year-old son has discovered a love for diamond painting, which is a type of color-by-number done with beads. Kits like these are sometimes helpful for kids with anxiety, since it can be very relaxing to work on a craft.
Puzzles are another safe gifting option for quality family time. Bonus: Have you noticed kids talk more when they’re focused on doing something else? We might actually get meaningful conversations out of our teenagers! However, they can also be perfect for quiet, alone time. Family members can work on them as they feel inspired and walk away if they’re frustrated.
Both crafts and puzzles have an additional benefit in the sense of accomplishment one gets after completing them. Not only that, the kids end up with a tangible product to enjoy and show off instead of a virtual prize, and they’ve spent time building relationships, too. A win all around!
Books! Enough said. The possibilities are endless!
We hope this has inspired you to look a little deeper at the gifts you give this holiday season. While every gift doesn’t need to be unique and filled with educational opportunities, choosing responsible gifts – especially for the minors in your life – will pay off in the long run.
For more information on safe gifting or how to talk to your kids about gambling, visit changethegameohio.org.