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Gambling, increasing number of teenagers at risk

November 12, 2018

Teenagers are increasingly becoming victims of gambling. This is revealed by an analysis carried out by the National Research Council on 3,500 Milanese students aged 15 to 19 attending secondary schools in the municipality, which shows that half of those interviewed have played at least once in their lives, despite the fact that this activity is forbidden to minors. If one in five young people say they are not aware of the ban, what is even more worrying is that 26 percent of the young people interviewed who have played at least once in the last year have a profile of a player at risk or are at least a “problematic” subject. We talked about this issue with Dr. Marco Nuara, pediatrician at Humanitas.


Adolescence and gambling: information is better than prohibition

“The adolescent age is problematic in itself” – explains Nuara, pediatrician of Humanitas San Pio X – If something is banned, at this age it becomes even more intriguing. To stem the problem it is more appropriate to focus on information and education rather than prohibitions”.


The data, which emerge clearly from the complex analysis carried out by the City of Milan with the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the National Research Council, in partnership with Cooperativa Lotta, Comunità Nuova, Comunità A77, the Banda degli Onesti Onlus, were collected in March, April and May 2018, as part of the study “Milan No-Slot”. The research was carried out with the aim of acquiring a cognitive picture of the opinions and knowledge possessed, attitudes and behaviors adopted by young students, who today are even more often victims of the possibilities of gambling that can be found online. More than 70 per cent of young people are less than 10 minutes away from home and 56% are very close to school. Despite the many initiatives developed by the City of Milan, which with the past administration has regulated the positioning of gaming rooms in line with the regional law of 2013, now Palazzo Marino intends to put in place new measures.

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Fighting addiction to video games requires more education

The other phenomenon investigated by the research concerns youth behavior in relation to video games. 12% of students spend more than €50 a month on multimedia games and spend more than 3 hours a day on these activities during the week. At the weekend, 25% of children spend at least 3 hours a day in front of the screen, while 1 in 4 is at risk of compulsive gambling addiction. The increase in the phenomenon seems to be caused in part by ignorance of the rules and in part by the ease and speed of access to the game.


“It is no longer necessary to go to physical places to gamble, much more comfortable and less risky to do it behind the screen of a smartphone or a PC” – explained Nuara. All adolescent boys have access to these tools. Trying to limit the phenomenon in children with prohibitions would not solve the problem of play. At most it would postpone it to adulthood. For this reason it is important to educate our children to manage money from an early age, in the family, so that they understand the value and learn to spend it with criteria and parsimony. I believe that only in this way can we prevent gambling and other addictions.

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