Jakarta (ANTARA) - Despite the conveniences it offers, the rapid development of digital technology is posing several risks for the nation's youth. One of the risks is online gambling, which has recently come under the spotlight in Indonesia.

While casinos can still prohibit entry for minors, online gambling on mobile phones does not have barriers when it comes to access. Besides adults, online gambling has become popular among children under 17 who do not even have ID cards yet.

A recent report by the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) revealed a concerning fact: around 80,000 children under 10 and 440,000 pre-teens and teenagers are already gambling online.

Thus, online gambling is a serious challenge that is threatening the nation's future. There is an urgent need to protect children and prevent them from falling into this trap.

Fulfilling children's rights

Just like preventing delinquency, to stop children from gambling online, their activities must be monitored, starting with the surrounding environment. This has been stated in Law Number 23 of 2002 concerning child protection.

Parents have an important role in efforts to protect children, according to deputy chair of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) Jasra Putra. Children need to be protected not only from violence and bullying but also from online gambling addiction.

He noted that the actions of children can be traced to the influence of their parents.

In the last three years, power relations have emerged as one of the issues in child protection, the KPAI noted. Parents have the power to guide their children's behavior.

"This is what we call the thing that kills our child protection," he said. "There are parents who gamble."

Putra said that the commission does not know whether their children are encouraged to open bank accounts for gambling or whether their children are invited to hold gambling money.

Apart from prevention, the people closest to the children must also fulfill their rights. Children's rights include the right to a family environment and alternative care, basic health and welfare, education, use of free time, cultural activities, and special protection.

If the family fails to fulfill children's rights, their surrounding environment can put them at risk of addiction to drugs, gambling, pornography, and games, among other things.

Amid the rise of online gambling, the KPAI is also paying attention to the potential for child exploitation. This is because unscrupulous adults could take advantage of children from an economic perspective, such as by using their children's accounts or creating bank accounts with their children's data.

"Therefore, we hope law enforcement also applies to economic exploitation matters," he said.

To this end, the fulfillment of children's rights must be defended by everyone who realizes that the future of the nation is in the hands of the younger generations.

Gambling addiction

Currently, all elements of the nation are working to achieve the Golden Indonesia 2045 vision, which is expected to be realized on the country's 100th independence anniversary. The younger generations have an important role in the realization of this vision.

However, based on data, adolescents are the group that is most exposed to online gambling among the young age groups.

The Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association (APJII) in 2023 found that the adolescent group (aged 13–18 years) has the highest Internet penetration rate.

Debora Basaria, a psychology lecturer from Tarumanagara University, said that the adolescent phase starts at the age of 10–13 years and ends at 18–22 years. Adolescents tend to show impulsive behavior, such as acting without planning or thinking about consequences, and tend to seek new experiences.

Impulsive behaviors are normal, but those that tend to be risky, such as online gambling, must be prevented. Moreover, there have been some cases of adolescents promoting online gambling on social media.

The spread of online gambling addiction cannot be overlooked because of its impacts that can harm the community.

Therefore, all parties must anticipate it to keep children from becoming involved in criminal cases due to online gambling.

"For example, because they are too addicted to online gambling, they commit stealing to get money," she said.

She noted that, based on research, teenagers who are "severely addicted" to gambling derive dramatic pleasure in winning. Thus, they feel the desire to continue gambling and spend a lot of money to satisfy this desire.

In the end, the most important factors in the creation of golden generations are the family and the environment. People must also care about their neighbors' welfare.

Even if their condition is already good, the family and the community need to build and strengthen the good character of children and adolescents and educate them about the harmful consequences of actions that lead to criminal acts.

"Thus, I suggest an approach that is highly integrated with all parties," the academician said.

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Translator: Bagus Ahmad, Raka Adji
Editor: Anton Santoso
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