YOUNG VOICES

Teenagers Are Snubbing Alcohol For Social Media, Study Finds

16/07/2015 16:06 BST | Updated 16/07/2015 16:59 BST
Agung Parameswara via Getty Images
KUTA, INDONESIA - NOVEMBER 25: Teenagers attend a party in a nightclub during Australian 'schoolies' celebrations following the end of the year 12 exams on November 25, 2013 in Kuta, Indonesia. Every year over 3000 students descend on destinations such as Bali, Thailand, Fiji and Cambodia to celebrate 'Schoolies Week', which marks the end of the school year. Destinations such as Kuta in Bali are often chosen because of cheap alcohol and all night parties. (Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)

Two thirds of British teenagers are snubbing alcohol, saying it does not play an important role in their social lives, with nearly a fifth saying they are completely tee-total, according to new research.

More than four in 10 cite concerns about their reputation if drunken pictures were posted online as a factor in their nonchalant attitude towards drinking.

The report, commissioned by the Demos think tank, found social media was both a distraction and a deterrent for youths.

Ian Wybron, co-author of the report commented: "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.

Wybron explains the concerns are in part due to the ability of posts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to be easily shared.

Other key reasons given by teenagers in the report for not drinking were not being able to afford alcohol and an increasing appreciation of the health risks posed by alcohol.

The report goes on to say that a rise in non-drinking migrants is not the reason for the statistics, as this would only reflect a third of the rise in tee-total teenagers. It also found one in three young people believe alcohol was more important to their parents than them.

The report recommends the NHS and the government incorporate the problems they identified in their anti-alcohol abuse strategy.

Professor Mark Bellis, alcohol lead of the UK faculty of public health, said: "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."

He added: "Some reductions in drinking may result from new technologies providing appealing alternatives to cheap booze."

Despite this many student unions have recently considered using breathalysers at events to limit the dangers posed by binge drinkers.

Loughborough University is considering introducing the policy after trials at Norfolk University. The student union president at Loughborough said: “We’re keen to experiment with any good practice for running licensed premises. The only way to see if this measure is effective is to experiment with it.

“We know that in Norfolk the police helped with equipment and training and we will ask for the same help here. Working in partnership with the police and licensing authorities.”

He added he hoped it would make students understand they shouldn't get drunk before they go out.