New lessons have been published by the PSHE Association after it was commissioned by charity GambleAware to raise awareness of the issue among much younger children.
“This work recognises the need to teach children about gambling risks earlier in life given the increasingly sophisticated landscape,” the association said.
The specially produced educational material will address significant concerns about “blurred lines” between gambling and video games.
Children are exposed to gaming features such as “loot boxes” which risk normalising gambling behaviours at an early age before the consequences are fully understood, the association explained.
A 2019 survey carried out by the Gambling Commission highlighted that 11 per cent of 11- to 16-year-olds had spent their own money on gambling, an average of £17 over a seven-day period.
The findings also suggest a relationship between potentially harmful activities and gambling, with those who have spent their own money on gambling more likely to have drunk alcohol (41 per cent) or to have taken drugs (21 per cent) compared with 11- to 16-year-olds who have not gambled.
In a recent National Audit Office report on gambling regulation, the commission estimates there are 55,000 “problem” gamblers aged 11 to 16 – nearly twice as high as estimates released in 2017 – with variations in data due to changes in how problem gambling is measured among young people.
The NHS opened its first gambling clinic last year in response to growing concern around the impact of online gaming and gambling on young people’s mental health, the report states.
The association said the primary school module would complement existing secondary lessons as well as a teacher handbook on addressing gambling harms.
The free downloadable lesson plans explore topics such as risk-taking in relation to gambling and how to enable children to recognise who to approach for support.
The launch aimed at younger children was “timely”, given teaching risks related to online gambling is due to become statutory in secondary schools as part of health education requirements from September, it added.
Jonathan Baggaley, the association’s chief executive, said: “These latest PSHE materials from our partnership with GambleAware will help develop an early understanding of risky gambling behaviours and the impact of gambling related harms on people’s health and wellbeing.”
Dr Jane Rigbye, GambleAware’s director of education, said gambling was a “public health” issue that children were often exposed to.
“With these new primary teaching materials, children will be given a foundation which will support their future understanding of the nature of gambling and the harms that can arise from it,” she said.