Social Games Study Reveals Interesting Facts

By Ben Hamill - November 05 2018

Teen Gambling Addiction

A recent study published by the Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has shown that free games with gambling themes could be a gateway to playing for real money for youngsters. Furthermore, the study also linked gameplay to a significantly higher risk of gambling problems among adolescents.

Dr Tara Elton-Marshall, a scientist that has long been a part of the CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, explained the findings further in a recent interview. According to her, participation in seemingly low-risk social casino games by young people is of great concern, as it is now known that early exposure to such activities is a risk factor for developing gambling addictions and problematic behaviour in the future.

Teens at Risk

According to the Canadian addiction organization as many as 12% of teens in three local provinces revealed by census that they had played socially in the past three months. The findings come from an earlier survey conducted in 2012 that focused on over 10,000 students from Ontario, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Labrador. The survey focused on three types of entertainment in the genre; Internet slots, virtual poker, and Facebook-based casino games.

The researchers found that adolescents who played social casino games were far more likely to gamble for money as well, be it online or at land-based casinos, when compared with their peers who did not play the free options. The frequency of play was also directly correlated with the incidence of later development of gambling-related issues.

According to Dr Elton-Marshall, while it is not quite clear whether young people start with social games and move onto cash gambling or if they are already playing for cash when they seek out the free titles, there is evidence that social gaming could create excitement and thrill around the concept. This could encourage a transition into playing for real money, which goes to show that the psychological effects of free-to-play games are still very comparable to their monetary counterparts.

READ MORE: Social Games Popular Among Canadian Teens

Scientists Urge Parents to Be Aware

Shockingly, the study also revealed that between 37% and 50% of youngsters who played both free and real money games met the criteria for moderate or high problem gambling rates. In comparison, only about 10% of those who played for real money, but did not play social titles scored positively according to these criteria.

Dr Elton-Marshall stated in her interview that social casino entertainment options may also have higher odds of ‘winning’ than real money titles, which misleads young people in terms of their actual odds of winning. It’s essential, she says, for teens, parents, teachers and other role models to be aware of these risks and look out for problem gambling habits as much as possible.

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