“I am becoming more and more like my eldest brother!”: The relationship between older siblings, adolescent gambling severity, and the attenuating role of parents in a large-scale nationally representative survey study


The present study examined the association between having older siblings who gamble and adolescent at-risk/problem gambling and how parents (i.e., parental knowledge of their whereabouts) and peers might moderate such effects. Data were drawn from the ESPADĀ®Italia2012 survey (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs) comprising a nationally representative Italian sample of adolescents. The analysis was carried out on a subsample of 10,063 Italian students aged 15-19 years (average age = 17.10; 55 % girls) who had at least one older sibling and who had gambled at some point in their lives. Respondents' problem gambling severity, older gambler sibling, gambler peers, parental knowledge, and socio-demographic characteristics were individually assessed. Multinomial logistic regression analyses including two- and three-way interactions were conducted. The odds of being an at-risk/problem gambler were higher among high school students with older siblings that gambled and those with peers who gambled. Higher parental knowledge (of who the adolescent was with and where they were in their leisure time) was associated with lower rates of at-risk/problem gambling. There was also an interaction between gamblers with older siblings and parental knowledge. The combination of having siblings who gambled and a greater level of parental knowledge was associated with lower levels of problem gambling. The present study confirmed the occurrence of social risk processes (older siblings and peers who gambled) and demonstrated that gambling among older siblings and peers represents an important contextual factor for increased at-risk/problem gambling. However, parental knowledge appears to be sufficient to counterbalance the influence of older siblings.

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