Research Indicates Daily Social Media Usage Increases Risk of Gambling Addiction

Posted on: December 1, 2023, 06:49h. 

Last updated on: December 1, 2023, 06:49h.

Social media has both positive and negative effects, especially on the health of young people. The British Medical Journal published a study linking social media use to an increase in health-risk behaviors such as gambling.

A phone displaying various social media app icons
A phone displaying various social media app icons. New research suggests a link between daily social media exposure and an increased propensity for gambling among adolescents. (Image: Getty Images)

The study, Social media use and health risk behaviours in young people: systematic review and meta-analysis, doesn’t only focus on gambling but also highlights links between daily social media use and alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, as well as antisocial behavior and risky sexual practices.

Previous studies had focused on university-level students, but this new research delves into the effects on adolescents aged 10 to 19. It involved analyzing over 126 studies with approximately 139 million adolescents.

The research revealed a significant potential for harm from exposure to social media content promoting unhealthy behaviors, including alcohol and unhealthy eating habits. There’s a nearly 200% increase in the odds of adolescents participating in gambling with daily social media use compared to infrequent use.

Associations were also found between frequent social media activity and increased alcohol and drug use, tobacco use, and risky sexual behaviors. Antisocial behavior such as bullying and physical aggression was also linked to social media exposure.

More Research Needed

While the findings are valuable, more studies are needed to establish causal relationships and understand impacts on health disparities. The researchers also recognize the GRADE system as a valuable method for evaluating evidence in research in healthcare.

The study highlights the necessity of factoring in learned behaviors from home environments that may influence the results of social media usage studies. This insight could guide future research to determine specific factors with the most detrimental effects.

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