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Investigating the Relationship between Social Engagement and Sports Betting among the Youth of Ghana

Today, the behavior of the people is largely determined by the influence of various digital media, through which certain ideas and beliefs are broadcast. More specifically, social networks tend to exercise a strong degree of control over the thoughts and behaviors of their users. It is theorized that this effect is particularly strong among younger users who have not yet established their own paradigms of values. As a result, people begin to exhibit the behaviors that have the potential to become harmful to them or to the community. Most importantly, this behavior is not the product of their natural aspirations but a manifestation of external influence transmitted through social media.

Problem Statement

The proposed study will concentrate on sports betting as a behavior that is likely induced by the influence of social network engagement among the youth in Ghana. While betting on its own is not an inherently negative nor damaging behavior, it wields the potential to become a hurtful habit when exhibited without a proper degree of control (Russel et al., 2019). Specifically, sports betting is a form of gambling, especially when it does not comprise the required level of athlete performance analysis or knowledge of the sports (Seal et al., 2022). Moreover, even if these criteria are met, there is no effective guarantee that the bet will be successful, meaning that there is always a gambling component to this activity. Within the framework of the proposed study, it is suggested that sports betting may be prompted externally by social media engagement of a young person.

As hypothesized, this influence is exercised through direct and indirect channels. In the first case, the young individual is directly prompted by the recounts of positive betting experiences and advertisement in social networks (Lopez-Gonzalez, 2019). In addition, indirect influence may be exercised by the general trend to showcase wealth and luxury lifestyle on social media (Fioravanti et al., 2020). In this case, social platforms set unrealistic standards of the quality of life, and sports betting is perceived as a viable option of attaining it.

Research Aims, Questions, Objectives, and Hypotheses

The aim of the proposed research is to examine the correlation between a person’s engagement with social media and their inclination toward placing bets on sports events. In this regard, the following set of research objectives has been formulated:

  1. Examine the relationship between social media and youth sports betting behavior;
  2. Investigate the role social network in forming the habit of sports betting;
  3. Ascertain the link between social media and youth sports betting inclination.

In light of these aims and objectives, the following research questions are to be answered in the course of the proposed project:

  • RQ1 – Does social media engagement affect a young person’s inclination toward sports betting?
  • RQ2 – In what way does social media engagement influence a young person’s inclination toward sports betting?

The proposed research project will seek to verify a set of interrelated hypotheses in the course of the subject matter examination:

  • H1 – Social media engagement correlates positively with a young person’s inclination toward sports betting.
  • H2 – Social media engagement correlates negatively with a young person’s inclination toward sports betting.
  • H0 – Social media engagement does not correlate with a young person’s inclination toward sports betting.

Review of the Literature

Sports betting is a widespread behavior that is only increasing its prevalence with the development of technology. A. Parke and J. Parke (2019) observe this trend, which consists of the growing number of digital platforms that facilitate the access to betting. Today, this activity can be completed without leaving the premises of an individual’s household using an electronic gadget. As a result, the frequency and widespread of betting have adjusted upward through a more considerable presence of the online segment (Lopez-Gonzalez & Griffiths, 2018). Furthermore, new formats have emerged, especially with the rise of fantasy sports that can be perceived as a “a safe and legal alternative” (Houghton et al., 2019, p. 332). Yet, the possibility of transitioning from fantasy sports to actual betting is likely to increase with experience (Nower et al., 2018). Therefore, the popularity of betting remains on a stable increase in the 21st century.

At the same time, this behavior is likely to cause long-lasting repercussions for the player on both physical and mental levels. Indeed, sports betting on its own is not an inherently negative experience, but it has the potential to transform into an actual damaging habit (Aragay et al., 2021). In many cases, sports betting enthusiasts report having a profound understanding of the game and the required expertise to make accurate forecasts, succumbing to an illusion of control (Lopez-Gonzalez et al., 2017a). Nevertheless, a certain element of gambling remains present throughout the experience, because the nature of sports eliminates the possibility of a fixed outcome (Riley et al., 2021). Furthermore, this habit is associated with impulse decisions, which become especially prevalent in case of inconveniences (Lopez-Gonzalez et al., 2017b). When failing to achieve profits, a better’s frustration may prompt them to make subsequent forecasts without analysis in an attempt to retaliate. As a result, the promises of high rewards consume younger users through a combination of hope and frustration.

While the nature of sports betting addiction is defined clearly in the contemporary body of literature, its origins require additional elaborations. Specifically, the factors that condition the described behavior may vary among different demographics. The influence of social media on the action patterns of its users remains a topic of intense discussions today. For example, modern marketers acknowledge this potential of digital network and utilize it to shape the purchasing habits of their target audiences (Dolan et al., 2019). This information implies that businesses have recognized the immense potential of social media in dictating the behavior of its users. Safia et al. (2020) add that this impact is particularly strong in the case of younger recipients, for whom digital media remain the primary source of information. Shava and Chinyamurindi (2018) note that the youth interact with social networks on a more profound level, which is explained by their higher digital literacy in comparison to adults. Along with the benefits of digital communication, they also absorb the information that is spread throughout these media, often unfiltered.

In the end, social network experience is found to condition the behavior of the youth. Aslam et al. (2021) refer to this phenomenon as a form of peer pressure that affects adolescents and young adults. Specifically, younger users tend to shape their ideals and behavioral patterns on the basis of their online experiences (Fleming-Milici & Harris, 2020). In the case of sports betting, this implies a lower level of critical thinking deployed in the process. Younger betters become inspired by the stories of fortunes won with bookmakers, thus disregarding the associated risks (Nyemcsok et al., 2022). Betting services also tend to rely on social media marketing, through which they engage the youth (James & Bradley, 2021; Dunlop & Ballantyne, 2021). As a result, young people become inspired to test such platforms and often become their active users.

Methodology

The proposed study will address the relationship between social media engagement and sports betting inclination among young people in Ghana. Considering the lack of relevant data within the contemporary body of literature, the project will focus on the practical dimension of the subject matter. For this purpose, a survey will be conducted among the Ghanaian youth. They will be offered to fill quantitative questionnaires that will illustrate several key aspects that pertain to the objective. First, the participants will report the frequency of their social media use using the prompts provided. Then, they will report their experiences with sports betting. Statistical analysis tools will be employed to explore the correlations between the two scales that are social media engagement and sports betting habits. Considering the concise nature of the envisaged survey, the projected sample size is to include 1,000 young people from Ghana of both sexes, aged 18-25. As the subject matter is sensitive to a degree, the surveys are to be kept strictly anonymous and no personal data will be collected, store, or otherwise engaged.

Conclusion

The investigation of modern literature has revealed a major research gap that is to be addressed by the proposed study. More specifically, there are two fundamental ideas that are presently researched at length. First, the damaging effect of betting that transcends to gambling is explored, as well as the underlying mechanisms that explain the addiction. Second, the extent of influence of social media experience on the behavior of the youth is also covered within modern literature. Yet, little research exists on the relationship between the two concepts. The proposed research will bridge this gap through the lens of practical experiences of the youth in Ghana, drawing informed conclusions and providing evidence for future studies.

References

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Aslam, M., Khan, J. G., Khan, G., Asif, H., Atta, N., Rafique, A., Tahir, T., Ahmed, N., & Ayesha. (2021). Impact of social media and peer pressure on eating behaviors of adolescents: social media and peer pressure on eating behaviors. Pakistan BioMedical Journal, 4(2), 181-186.

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