Study: Teenage alcohol use linked to computer use

A new study says teens that drink alcohol spend more time on their computers than their peers who don’t drink.

The interesting results of the anonymous survey of 264 teenagers are described in the online edition of the journal Addictive Behaviors. The study is authored by Weill Cornell Medical College public health researcher Dr. Jennifer Epstein.


“While the specific factors linking teenage drinking and computer use are not yet established, it seems likely that adolescents are experimenting with drinking and activities on the Internet. In turn, exposure to online material such as alcohol advertising or alcohol-using peers on social networking sites could reinforce teens’ drinking,” says Dr. Epstein, assistant professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College.


“Children are being exposed to computers and the Internet at younger ages. For this reason it’s important that parents are actively involved in monitoring their children’s computer usage, as well as alcohol use. According to a national study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, more than half of parents of teenagers had filters installed on the computers their child uses to block content parents find objectionable, yet many parents do not use any form of parental monitoring, particularly for older teens,” continues Dr. Epstein.


The survey was taken by participants who were aged 13 to 17 from the US. The results showed that teens who reported drinking in the last month used a computer more hours per week excluding school work than those who did not; though, there was no demonstrated link between alcohol use and computer use for school work.


Booze behavior was also associated with more frequent social networking and listening to and downloading music. No strong link exists between video games and drinking or online shopping and drinking.  


“Going forward, we would like to collect more detailed and longer-term data on adolescent alcohol and computer use, including the degree and duration of their drinking habit,” says Dr. Epstein.


Teens usually first take a drink of the sauce at age 12 or 13, which is pretty hardcore. Obviously there are also family risk factors in play which include careless parental supervision and bad communication, family conflicts, inconsistent or harsh discipline and a family history of alcohol or drug abuse.


“Parents may also need to reinforce their family ground rules on alcohol use and computer use,” Dr. Epstein says.


“This is an innovative study that is an important first step to understanding the potential impact that the Internet and new media may have on today’s youth,” says Dr. Gil Botvin, professor of public health and chief of the Division of Prevention and Health Behavior at Weill Cornell Medical College. “The Internet offers a wealth of information and opportunities for intellectual and social enrichment. However, it is becoming clear that there may also be a downside to Internet use. More systematic research is needed to better understand to those potential dangers and how to combat them.”


Come on now, do people out there reading this really think its computers that are somehow causing the teenage drinking? Sure the data from the survey shows that the kids who drink are linked to more computer usage, but it doesn’t take Ivy League doctors to understand that its bad parenting that’s the cause of teen drinking.


It really sounds like these medical researchers might think that the Internet is somehow causing drinking in teens. That’s a complicated cause of a really simple problem. If you are a crappy parent and you don’t check in on your kids, they will probably do lots of things. They will use the Internet all the time if you don’t make them go outside. If you continue to neglect them, they might end up drinking and using the computer.


The kids who drank were linked to more computer usage. Most of those kids probably have crappy parents. We are a world filled with bad parents and plenty of technological distractions.