March 31, 2016 9:26 am
Updated: March 31, 2016 5:29 pm

Is your teen gambling online? Study says the habit is on the rise

Nearly 10 per cent of teens in three Canadian provinces said they had gambled online in the past three months, according to a new study

AP Photo/Wayne Parry

Do you know what your teens do with their money? If not, you may want to pay closer attention to their spending habits.

Teens are gambling online more than previously thought, according to a study released Thursday by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the University of Waterloo.

“A substantially high proportion of young people are gambling in general, and mostly in unregulated forms, like in a dare or a game of pool, which are accessible to youth,” explained Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, lead author of the study.

It’s mostly males who fall into the habit. And their number one vice seems to be online sports betting. They’re also often on poker sites and gambling games on Facebook.

The finding is concerning, Elton-Marshall says, because there’s research that suggests “the earlier people start to gamble, the more likely it is to be an issue later on.” Studies have also shown that problem gambling can be associated with substance abuse, depression, anxiety and suicide.

WATCH: What to do if a teen is struggling with drugs, alcohol or gambling addiction

This latest study was the first to use a problem gambling scale created specifically for adolescents. The scale was based on questions like how often an activity (such as team sports) was missed due to gambling or betting.

It produced some troubling figures:

  • 36 per cent of online gambling teens had a score indicating a potential problem (versus eight per cent for offline gamblers)
  • 42 per cent of teens had gambled money or something of value either online or offline
  • 10 per cent had gambled online in the past three months

This is the first Canadian-based study to find such high levels of online gambling among youth. The researchers acknowledge this might partly be explained by the fact they specifically asked teens about online sports pools, which may not have been considered a form of gambling in the past.

READ MORE: Across Ontario, desperate problem gamblers surround casinos

More than 10,000 Grade 9 to 12 students (aged 13 to 19) in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador were part of the study.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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