Older gamers may spend less time on mobile social games than their younger counterparts, but they definitely spend more money on virtual goods. That’s the key takeaway from new research from mobile gaming community MocoSpace.

The study found a direct correlation between age and willingness to get out a credit card. Gamers over 35, who made up 18 percent of gamers surveyed, were responsible for 42 percent of all virtual goods spending. In contrast, 18- to 25-year-olds, who made up 43 percent of those surveyed, were responsible for only 18 percent of virtual goods purchases even though they spent nearly twice as much time gaming than any other age group.

“We’re seeing parents go from spending money on buying games for their kids, to spending money on virtual goods in games for themselves,” said MocoSpace chief executive officer Justin Siegel. The time-versus-money balance seems to come into play here, where young people have more time than money, and the reverse holds true as we all grow up.”

He added that these results show that different monetization methods may work for different age groups, with advertising-based models a better bet for teens and micropayments for more mature players.

Nearly 500,000 gamers on MocoSpace’s network of 22 million users were surveyed during a three-month period between August and November.

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Photo by Flickr user woodleywonderworks, used under Creative Commons license