The saying goes, “If you don’t think your teen is drinking, they’re probably drinking”. And it’s an accurate one, for the most part.
It only makes sense, growing up in a culture defined as much by enjoying a glass of Chardonnay with dinner four nights a week as it is by mateship.
It only follows, then, that parents are fairly unfazed when they inevitably catch their 15 or 16 year olds swapping vodka from the family liquor cabinet for water, bit-by-bit. Or unsurprised, at least.
How could they claim to be, when underage drinking is portrayed and normalised in every other teen movie and television series that’s aired since the turn of the century.
At 16 years old, when I confronted my own mum with a similar question around a different issue, it was one she was by no means ready for, nor, at the time, could quite wrap her head around.
Sportsbet was the app most of my friends used to place bets online. I’ve never figured out how they managed to create accounts considering they were underage, but I suppose it doesn’t matter.
Nor were they alone. According the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF), research shows 12.2 percent of teens under 18 have placed a bet on the internet.
So, it was those enthusiastic friends around me, paired with my own dedication to AFL – two factors which, I would argue, are present in the lives of many young Australian boys – which eventually led me to download my first betting app.
I asked my mum if she could set up an account I could use in her name.
"Can I borrow your ID to set it up," I pleaded. "I'll put all the money on there. You won't need to spend a cent."
She refused. And while I was devastated at the time, missing out on the undeniably thrilling peaks and pitfalls of gambling with my comrades, I'm incredibly relieved, in hindsight, that she did.
Boys are raised with a belief ingrained that gambling and sport go hand-in-hand; that there's little point in a competitive match being played if their dad, their uncle, their older cousin can't pull out a mobile phone and bet on it.