The research and findings of the ‘Bristol Children of the 90s’ study will be published and analysed at today’s GambleAware annual conference which focuses on ‘keeping children and the young safe from gambling harms’.
The study commissioned by GambleAware and undertaken by Bristol Medical School’s Centre for Child Health measured young gambling interactions by researching audiences aged 17, 20 and 24.
In its research, the Bristol Medical School used a sample of over 3,500 people for each age group, as well as data from surveys and interviews with parents, which were carried out before engaging with their children on the topic of gambling.
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, said: “GambleAware is focused on keeping people safe from gambling harms. In particular, we are concerned to protect children and young people who are growing up in a world where technology makes gambling, and gambling-like activity, much more accessible.
“One in eight 11-16-year olds are reported as following gambling businesses on social media, for example. Our annual conference will showcase the ‘Bristol Children of the 90s’ study alongside other important contributions to discussions that will examine the theme of gambling and young people from a public health perspective.”
GambleAware’s headline finding reveals that ‘those who gambled weekly were more likely to be male and had developed regular patterns of play and gambling habits by the age of 20’.
Raising concerns on young engagements before the age of 20, the study found that more than half (54%) of 17-year olds had participated in gambling in the past year, a figure which would increase to almost seven in ten (68%) for 20-year-olds, and fell slightly by the time those taking part reached the age of 24, to nearly two thirds (66%) saying they had gambled in the past year.
As anticipated the most common early gambling engagements were driven by playing the lottery, scratch cards and placing private bets with friends. However, of particular note, the study reveals prominent transitions to online gambling activities amongst men, going from 9% at age 17, to 35% at age 20, and 47% at age 24.
In its study, Bristol Medical School highlights several ‘environmental and family factors’ which have a significant impact on activity, such as if participants parents gamble regularly.
Additional environmental factors saw high social media usage and the playing of video games as trends for young participants who gamble.
Young regular gamblers had lower well-being scores and were at least twice as likely to smoke cigarettes daily and to drink alcohol weekly. A small minority (6-7%) of regular gamblers had problems with gambling and at the age of 24 these were more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to engage in criminal activity.
Alan Emond, Emeritus Professor of Child Health at the Centre for Academic Child Health at Bristol Medical School, said:
“The unique features of the Children of the 90s gambling study are that the parent’s gambling was measured before the young people’s gambling, and the young people were asked about their gambling activity three times in the transition period from adolescence into young adulthood.
“Although many young people gambled without any harm, a small minority (6-7%) of males showed problem gambling behaviours associated with poor mental health and wellbeing, involvement in crime, and potentially harmful use of drugs and alcohol. To protect these vulnerable young people from gambling harm requires a combination of education, legislation and appropriate treatment services.”