Gambling Adverts on Social Networks: Psychotherapist’s Opinion

The new research from the University of Bristol has revealed that gambling advertising attracts children more than adults.

The gambling industry news often highlights how advertisements of gambling products influence different social groups. The University of Bristol has conducted research dedicated to the impact of ads on social networks on the younger generation, mainly children.

Read the study findings and comments from a mental health specialist to find out why such ads are harmful to kids.

Stricter rules are needed to decrease gambling harm to minors

The research has proved that gambling adverts frequently appeal more to the young audience, especially when they are published on social media. The major harm comes from covert ads promoting betting on esports. The advertising arouses minors’ interest more often than adults’. It has also been revealed that such adverts are shown to children quite often – every week. For example, the TikTok ads policy prohibits gambling-related promotions, but they still appear on this and other social media platforms.

Although the majority of adverts look harmless, they can significantly influence the younger generation in terms of mental health and further development. Mel McElhatton, a psychotherapist, and Responsible Gambling Consultant at Gluecksfall, has answered the question on how gambling at an early age influences a person in the future:

“More and more research is showing that when a person gambles at a young age, they are at a higher risk of developing other mental health conditions, such as depression, substance abuse disorder, and may even develop suicidal ideation. As an adolescent, they are also at a higher risk (when compared to their peers) of delinquency and crime.”

Speaking about the mechanism of the effect of such ads, the expert has said:

“Adverts are there to entice you to gamble, that is their role. While an older person can see these ads and recognize that gambling also comes with consequences, children are not able to see things with such rationale. Rather, they are seeing a colorful advert with a fun character. They do not see that gambling is a fun activity, which also brings about a loss of money and time if not taken care of properly, their process will stop at “this looks fun.”

The researchers call the government to implement stricter rules on gambling marketing, including tight regulations on the content that may attract mainly children, showing gambling ads to users who give their consent to get them, as well as changing the age range of a “young person” from 16-17 to 16-24.

Mel McElhatton has explained why age changes are important, and why young people are more prone to reacting to gambling ads from a psychological point of view:

“The brain keeps developing till the age of 25. During the ages of 0 to 25, the individual is more susceptible to what is being said and done to them and around them. This also means that the individual is more impulsive than those older than 25. Therefore, by being exposed to gambling adverts, which are naturally there to entice the individual to gamble, until the age of 25 the young person is more at risk of addiction, and of losing control when it comes to gambling.”

The study has confirmed the necessity of improved consideration and regulation of esports betting ads, which isn’t organized in a proper way currently.

Read more: Basic things to know about gambling addiction

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