The relationship between gambling and video-game playing behavior in children and adolescents

Abstract

It is suggested that commercial video-games (e.g.Nintendo &Sega) and gambling activities have similar attractive features and intermittent reinforcement schedules. This research seeks to examine the nature of this relationship amongst children. One hundred and four children aged 9 to 14, from grades 4, 6, and 8, participated. A questionnaire exploring issues related to video-game playing and gambling behavior in children and adolescents was completed and a computerized blackjack game was individually administered. High frequency video-game players were compared to low frequency video-game players with respect to their gambling performance on the blackjack gambling task as well as on information gathered from the questionnaire. Of particular concern is the risk-taking strategies used by avid video-game players, whether or not children perceive gambling and video-games as involving similar amounts of skill or whether they realize that gambling is primarily a game of chance. The findings, in general, suggest that high frequency video-game players gamble more than low frequency video-game players, report that gambling makes them feel more important, and take greater risks on the blackjack gambling task although no overall differences in success were found. Males exhibited greater risk-taking tendencies on the blackjack task than females. The clinical implications of the findings are addressed.

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