By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – According to Canadian researchers, nearly 1 in 8 high school students plays social casino games and playing these games may be linked to a higher risk of gambling problems among some teens.

Casinos and gambling websites are off-limits to teens, but free online casino games can be played by anyone on a computer or smartphone. Examples include casino table games, slots, poker and bingo. They don’t involve real money but users can place bets to win points or prizes within the game.

Researchers in Canada found that 12-percent of teens surveyed had played an online casino game in the past three months and that teens who played these games were more likely to participate in gambling for actual cash. Up to half of young people who gambled for money and played online casino games met criteria for problem gambling.

Given the fact that young people spend more and more time on their devices, parents should be aware of the potential risks of certain online games.

Dr. Mallika Marshall