Nearly a fifth of British teenagers are teetotallers and social media could be the reason according to a new study. Demos, which focuses on youth projects, carried out the survey on 16 – 24 year olds and found that social networking websites such as Facebook gives young people a focus, distracting them from drinking alcohol.
Research also showed that young people are worried about their online reputation and as a result avoid alcohol to prevent drunken photos from being posted on social networking websites.
Ian Wybron, a co-author of the study, stated: “The survey results certainly indicate that the growing importance of social media in modern life in playing a role in young people’s decisions around alcohol – both explicitly and implicitly. “
“Overall, 42% of the young people we surveyed felt that the internet and platforms such as Facebook have given young people more things to fill their time.”
“What’s more, 29% of young people cited concerns about their online reputations as contributing to the decline in youth alcohol consumption.”
He added that young people are concerned because posts on websites such as Facebook and Twitter can easily be shared.
The study also found that some teenagers avoid alcohol as a result of being unable to afford or easily obtain it, while others are concerned about the health problems it causes.
“If a substantial cultural shift is underway it’s obviously important to understand why. Our survey tested some common theories behind the declines, and found that young people themselves most commonly cite an increased awareness in the health consequences of excessive drinking (66%). Being less able to afford alcohol, and alcohol being harder to obtain for under-18s were the next most commonly cited (55% and 47% respectively),” Wybron said in a blog posted on the Demos website.
Professor Mark Bellis of the UK faculty of public health commented: “The pace and extent of change to the environment where young people develop is without precedent.
“Drinking alcohol at home or in pubs, bars and clubs now has to compete with social media, on line games and on demand TV for young people’s time and money.
“Some reductions in drinking may result from new technologies providing appealing alternatives to cheap booze.”
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