Despite the fact that it is illegal under the age of 18, gambling is a popular activity among adolescents.
While the prevalence of at-risk or probable pathological gambling among young people was 3.6% in 2013, the potential impact that the growing accessibility of online gambling may have on this vulnerable population is a source of concern. Furthermore, the potential impact of DEMO mode online gambling (without money) is largely unknown. The wide use and easy accessibility of gambling websites and applications raises questions regarding the possible development of Internet addiction, an issue that is not well documented in the scientific literature. Moreover, studies show that gambling and Internet habits are linked to various risk behaviours among youth, such as psychoactive substance (PAS) use and delinquency.
The findings presented in this report aim to document these behaviours according to gender and grade level.
The findings presented in this report aim to document these behaviours according to gender and grade level. A questionnaire completed by 3,922 Secondary 3, 4 and 5 students revealed significant behaviour differences between girls and boys. The boys in the study showed a greater incidence of problem gambling, PAS use and delinquency, while the girls showed higher levels of anxiety and depression and employed a wider range of adaptation strategies than the boys. The only significant difference observed across grade levels concerned the use of PAS, with Secondary 5 boys presenting more problems than the rest of the study population.
Finally, the high prevalence of at-risk Internet use among youth (45%) points to the need to take a closer look at this issue. These findings suggest priorities for action at political and clinical levels and propose intervention strategies according to gender and grade level.
Natacha Brunelle, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Deposit of the research report: September 2015