Although substantial research has provided support for the association between parental practices and adolescent gambling, less is known about the role of adolescent attitudes in this relationship. The primary purpose of this study was to test an integrative model linking perceived parental knowledge (children’s perceptions of their parents’ knowledge of their whereabouts and companions) with adolescent gambling while evaluating the mediating effects of adolescents’ own gambling approval, risk perception of gambling, and descriptive norms on gambling shared with friends. The data were drawn from the ESPAD® Italia 2012 (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs) study, which is based on a nationally representative sample of Italian adolescent students aged 15–19. The analysis was carried out on a subsample of 19,573 subjects (average age 17.11, 54 % girls). Self-completed questionnaires were administered in the classroom setting.
The results revealed that adolescents who perceived higher levels of parental knowledge were more likely to disapprove of gambling and show higher awareness of its harmfulness, which were in turn negatively related to gambling frequency. They were also less likely to perceive their friends as gamblers, which was also negatively related to gambling frequency. These findings suggest that gambling prevention efforts should consider perceived parental knowledge and gambling-oriented attitudes (self-approval, risk perception, and descriptive norms) as factors that may buffer adolescent gambling behavior in various situations.