Strong Parental Supervision Linked to Lower Gambling Risk in Teens

gamblingResearch conducted at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health reveals that stronger parental supervision during the preteen and early teen years can reduce the risk for problem gambling in young adulthood.[1] Gambling among youth is a growing problem, as research has shown that more than 80 percent have engaged in gambling, with 13 percent meeting the diagnostic criteria for problem gambling.1 Specifically, preteens with poor parental supervision beginning at age 11 and declining from there for the next three years were much more likely to be problem gamblers between ages 16 and 22.1

Researchers surveyed 514 Baltimore youth with questions regarding parental supervision and gambling.1 Results showed that 85 percent were considered the “stable group,” as they had consistently high levels of parental monitoring.1 The remaining 15 percent were considered the “declining group,” as they had lower levels of parental monitoring at age 11, which continued to decline until age 14.1

The differences between the two groups were statistically significant.1 While both groups were fairly well-monitored during early adolescence, the stable group was consistently monitored all of the time, while the declining group was supervised only most of the time.1 Even a small difference in parental monitoring has been found to significantly increase the risk of problem gambling, especially in African-American youth from urban, low-income neighborhoods.1

As children become teenagers, they begin to spend more time outside the home with friends, and parents give them the freedom to do so—this is normal.1 However, parents should still stay carefully engaged in their teen’s life.1 Although teenagers seek autonomy, they still lack the maturity to keep them from engaging in risky behaviors.1

Risk factors of gambling include gender (male), race (African-American), socioeconomic status (low-income), impulsivity, aggression, and hanging out with peers who engage in antisocial behavior.1 Many of these are difficult, if not impossible, to counteract; therefore, parental monitoring must be consistent and high.1

Problem gambling disrupts major areas of a person’s life—psychologically, physically, socially, and vocationally.1 It leads to severe financial difficulties and extreme stress.1 They become controlled by gambling and continue to do so despite all negative consequences.1 In fact, 40 percent of problem gamblers began gambling before they were 17 years old.1 The number of teens who play poker for money has increased by over 700 percent in the last two years alone, and 80 percent are male.1

With the growth of online gambling and other expanded gambling outlets, it is important to understand what makes a child vulnerable to problem gambling.1 Therefore, early interventions can steer them away from a destructive addiction. 1

[1] Pedersen, T. (2013). Strong Parental Supervision in Early Teens Tied to Lower Gambling Risk. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 18, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/11/17/strong-parental-supervision-in-early-teens-tied-to-lower-gambling-risk/62125.html

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