One of the venerable journalistic institutions in America, Time Magazine, has recently come out with an article that fairly looked at the question of young people playing the game of poker.
In the October 2nd issue of the magazine, Time has an article entitled "Parents For Poker" by Nathan Thornburg that tells the story of a Torrance, CA couple that encourages their teenage son to play poker for money with his friends. Their logic is that it teaches him many things beyond how to play poker. While playing, their son learns highly important interpersonal values, mathematics, and logic and observation skills. Along with this, the parents can be safe in the knowledge of where their son is at and his expenditures at the poker table are quite small in relation to what other activities he could be out doing.
The article looks at what these parents are doing and presents both sides of the story admirably. The seminal 1944 book "Theory of Games and Economic Behavior" from John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern is cited as a strong influence that what they are doing is correct. The article also points out how poker is linked to other "combat" practices through the history of man and how it teaches young men to become adults.
The negative side is presented as well. Thornburg does bring up the recent conviction of a Lehigh University student who robbed a bank to pay for his online gaming debts and cites studies from a couple of respected organizations. The recent convention for the National Council of Problem Gaming was extremely focused on youth gaming, according to the article, and Jeffrey Deverensky, the co-director of the McGill University Youth Gambling Research Clinic (who spoke at the convention), points out many potential problems that can come from youth gaming and how advertising seems to focus on attracting young people.
Deverensky stops short of banning gaming, though. He looks to have solid educational options for teenagers that will show them the long odds that gambling has rather than an outright ban on the activity or abstinence. The article points out the New Jersey program that has developed a responsible gambling program that is available for students in the school system (other states have done the same thing, as reported earlier here on PokerNews). The problem is, in this age of teenage pregnancy and drug and alcohol addiction, those programs rate a higher priority than that of gaming.
Thornburg and Time Magazine have to be commended for presenting a very delicate subject in an unbiased manner. At the end of the article, Thornburg does demonstrate a rather interesting dichotomy in the teenage boys' behavior. After talking, joking and laughing at the poker tables, the boys take a break and take up playing video games on television. All the camaraderie and discussion disappears as they devolve into grunts and little interaction as they play the games. While the article does let the reader make their own choices on the dilemma of youths playing poker, perhaps the parents are on to something here.
To view the article in its full length, be sure to pick up the October 2nd issue of Time Magazine or read it online at time.com
Ed Note: Why read magazines when you could be playing online poker at Pacific Poker