By Diego Garzón
Parents, authorities, and even casinos should be concerned. According to a group of Australian researchers, gambling-like games on social media prepare children for real money gambling later in life. The impact when young children play casino games can have a lasting negative effect.
The current laws and efforts to regulate access to such games for young children are not generating the necessary results. A high number of teens and kids spend a lot of time on social media, developing the risk of addiction not only the platforms themselves but also to the free social casino games.
Social media and gambling are forms of entertainment that millions of people enjoy around the world. This also includes children and teenagers, so let’s address some of the main points about the effects of social casino games on young children.
Social Media and Online Gambling
Online gambling and social media are two of the fastest-growing industries on the Internet. They both constitute a major percentage of Internet users both in mobile and desktop devices.
Researchers in the UK and Australia have conducted studies to determine if either social media or online gambling is healthy for children, especially focusing on the impact when the two are combined.
Although gaming operators cannot offer real money casino games on the most important social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, etc.), top online gambling operators offer social gaming apps which are available on the iTunes Apps Store and Google Play. This results in gambling-like games being more accessible to teens and children.
Effects on Teenagers and Children
Child-focused free slot games such as Scientific Games’ Jackpot Party gaming app, OMG! Kittens, as well as popular social gaming apps like Zynga, Big Fish Games, and Doubledown Casino, have been criticized by parent groups and anti-gambling activists. These groups believe that free social casino games create gambling habits later in life.
In 2014, a group of Australian researchers carried out a study called “Adolescent Simulated Gambling via Digital and Social Media”. Daniel L. King of the University of Adelaide’s School of Psychology and his colleagues studied 1,287 students aged 12-17. The researchers studied the students’ behavior and responses in several areas:
- Electronic Media Use
- Gambling Behavior
- Indicators of Pathological Gambling
- Mental Health
- Types of Simulated Gambling
The study found a boost in gaming habits of 3 to 5 times the baseline level, meaning the subjects were more apt to gamble later in life.
The study concluded that pathological gambling is a rare occurrence, but some students were classified as “at-risk” when they displayed relatively mild symptoms. The researchers also noted that “gambling-like” games on social media prepare children for real money gambling later in life because they familiarize underage users with how to play casino games.
According to the following graph, students that paid for social casino games were more likely to play real money gambling.
Gambling is a healthy form of entertainment designed by adults for adults. The fact that it includes monetary transactions and poses a risk of developing a gambling addiction should be enough to discourage giving young children access to these simulated casino games.
Laws and other regulations are in place to prevent children from accessing these types of games, but the nature of the industry allows for cracks in the system. Parents and educators have an important role to play in this situation and must prevent their children from playing these games.
About Diego Garzón
Diego is a professional writer with over 10 years of experience. His work covers different topics including online casinos and gaming. His articles have been featured at recognized sites like OUSC. Some of his hobbies include spending time with his wife and son, playing soccer, and watching movies.