How Social Media Influences Teen Alcohol Use

Digital and Social Media Saturates Youth In Alcohol Ads
Digital and Social Media Saturates Youth In Alcohol Ads | Source

Alcohol Advertising and Under Age Drinkers in Social Media

More teens use alcohol than smoke cigarettes or marijuana, making alcohol the most used drug by young people. Young people begin to drink, on average, between age 13 and 16. Ninety five percent of the alcohol consumed by underage drinkers is consumed through binge drinking; defined as five or more drinks per drinking occasion. Under age drinkers and young adults age 21-25 have the highest rates of binge drinking. Under age drinking accounts for 12% to 20% of the US alcohol market; over 3.6 billion drinks each year. Young people who start drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than those who wait until they are 21.

In addition to the severe short term and lifelong consequences that an individual teen can have as a result of under age drinking, there are costs to society and there are innocent victims harmed by under age drinkers. Research now confirms that the adolescent brain is not fully developed until about age 20 and that heavy alcohol use affects brain development; impairing judgment, planning, decision making, memory, attention and spatial operations. The cost to society in terms of under age drinking and driving and other risky behaviors associated with drinking, and violent crimes is about $50 billion each year.

While alcohol related motor vehicle fatalities have decreased, most fatalities involve under age drinkers. In 2000 only 7% of drivers were under age, yet 13% of alcohol related motor vehicle fatalities involved under age drivers who were drinking. Young people who are drinking are less likely to wear a seat belt and more likely to get in a car with a drunk driver. Alcohol was involved in 36% of homicides and 10% of suicides involving people under age 21 in 2000. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds. Individuals under age 21 commit 45% of rapes, 44% of robberies and 37% of other assaults. Alcohol is involved in 50% of violent crimes. More than 70,000 students aged 18-24 are victims of alcohol related sexual assault or date rape.

While the media doesn’t directly cause a young person to develop a problem with alcohol, it exerts a significant influence at a time when parental influence is least and decision making and impulse control is worst. The consequences are severe and long lasting. The earlier a person begins to drink, the more severe their alcohol problems are likely to be. Media influence is powerful enough to tip the scales for someone who is already vulnerable to developing alcohol related problems, and is powerful enough to influence someone who otherwise has minimal risk into engaging in risky behaviors with lifelong consequences.

CAMY: Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth

The Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University has published a series of four brief videos that show how much more powerful social media influences are than television, magazine and billboard advertisements. The videos show how the rules that were developed to regulate alcohol related advertisements do not apply to social media. They show how teens who are exposed to alcohol marketing are more likely to drink, how alcohol advertising appears more often in places where teens are more likely to be online, and examines how alcohol is advertised on social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and on mobile applications. The videos show how the interactive and viral effects of social media increase their influence over young people, and examine some of the best and worst practices used by the alcohol industry and by the social media to reduce exposure to underage persons. The videos suggest regulatory actions that could be taken to reduce the influence of media, and recommend that parents not only teach their children about drinking but about marketing as well.

Drawings in Sand by Yvonne Spence aka Melovy

Review of Drawings in Sand by Gail Sobotkin

Drawings in Sand is a novel that needs to be savored and mulled over like a glass of fine wine. As in real life, the characters are complex and flawed and their children are caught up in, and sometimes traumatized by, their parents' weaknesses, addictions and generational secrets. The novel starts at the lowest point of Stella's life and takes the reader on a frustrating dark journey with her as she struggles with alcoholism, sliding backwards before she can move forward.

The stakes are high as she may lose her sweet and loving daughter, Kirsty, and in fact there are times when the reader believes that losing custody of Kirsty would be in the child's best interests, but author Yvonne Spence, deftly introduces other characters that help Stella find her way into recovery and into the healing light of truth.

The ending is satisfying and touches the reader's heart without being sugary or predictable. ~Gail Sobotkin

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Comments 31 comments

diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico

Hiya. It's worse, believe it or not, in Britain. But don't downplay cigarettes. Most kids ease back on the drinking to hold down a job, but they have this terrible tobacco habit for life. Pot is less of a problem for all. The combination of booze and cigs is a lethal poison.

I am not sure whether to worry or not! I mean, the whole of society disgusts me at the moment, it's hard to isolate any part of it to try to help.

Nothing seems to stop these manufacturers. We have practically imposed prison sentences on smokers but still they puff on and still the ads are prominent everywhere Bob


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

Hey Bob. So true. Tobacco is as much or more of a problem. Tobacco and alcohol manufacturers contribute a lot to our weak economy too, and make lots of jobs. I think they could still do quite well without recruiting kindergartners though.

Maybe it's a good thing if the whole of society disgusts us. It's painful that we're just beginning to be aware of things that have gone on for years undetected. Over time, we'll all start doing little things differently, I suppose.

Until then, thanks for stopping in to comment:)


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

I wasn't aware that this was so prevalent. Thanks for all the information.


cr00059n 5 years ago

Social media has a strong impact on Teen Alcohol use. There are so many students who want to get some knowledge of what it is. And when they try to do it, they always want to be the center of attention. Cool work KimH! Plus points. Cool.


jenubouka 5 years ago

Great article with the hard facts parents need to know. Alcohol is effervescent throughout our culture, media, and the age is scary for when the kids start to pick up a drink. I wish this viral source of influence could switch gears.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

I love coming home and seeing all these comments:)

@alekhouse - You are welcome for the info, and thanks for reading and commenting:)

@cr00059n - I only recently figured out that the ads I see when I'm online are not the same for everyone. Imagine how difficult it would be if a young person wants to get or stay sober, but gets bombarded by alcohol ads when they go online to research a homework assignment!

@jenubouka - parental influence doesn't quite match media influence at this age, but at least parents can know what they're up against. It is scary how much harm can be done by and to young people with an unfinished brain on alcohol. I hope the viral influence switches gears too.

Thanks for reading and commenting!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon

As the mom of a 14-year old and almost 12-year old, I am concerned about the social media messages they receive concerning alcohol use - as well as cigarettes. My oldest spends more time on his tablet computer than he does watching TV and they don't listen to radio much, either. Great, informative hub!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

14 and 12 are just the right age to be targets for alcohol advertising, as well as very curious, vulnerable to peer pressure, and less receptive to parental influence. Throw in some wacky hormones and strong emotions..... It is amazing really how well most adolescents do. Thanks Stephhicks68:)


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

These statistics are quite sobering and some are shocking.

The videos were also very instructive on this important topic.

Thanks for sharing this information. My brother began drinking as a very young teenager (unbeknownst to me and my parents at the time) and he went on to become an alcoholic who died from cirrhosis of the liver at age 45.

It sounds like today's social media is encouraging more young people to drink which is really sad.


vrbmft profile image

vrbmft 5 years ago from Yucaipa, California

hI kIM

Thanks for an informative hub and for posting the videos. I've only been sober for a year and a half, but have always known and acknowledged how insidious of a problem alcohol is. It is such a part of daily life and family celebrations and restaurant life and so on and so on. I remember when my son made his first communion (age 8--he is now 39), we told the family there would be no alcohol at the celebration after the service. Wow, I was stunned (and I was still drinking--a lot--then) that the family went nuts and found a way to get alcohol to the celebration despite our request! I will never forget that. I am personally grateful I am sober, but when I think of coming up with solutions for the insidiousness of the marketing in general, let alone to the under age crowd, it feels like tackling a couple of acres of weeds! But I think that this post is a good beginning and more of us need to post our thoughts, our concerns, our knowledge and research on the topic. I do believe in the critical mass notion.

I have a little free time tonight, so I thought I would catch up with some of my fellow hubbers.

Vern


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

@ HBM - 45! alcohol took at least 30 years from him...not to mention some quality of life as well. That is so sad.

I think if the media gets them young enough, they'll get years of profits. If young people are ever lacking something to get mad about, I hope they get mad enough at the alcohol industry to put off drinking until age 21!

Thanks for stopping in, Gail:)


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

Congrats on the year and a half sober, Vern. That's a big deal! I have 2 years nicotine free, and not being able to smoke, first in buildings and then in restaurants, was helpful to me in quitting gradually, one place at a time, over several years. Do we really need alcohol or cigarettes? When I think of how many lives are lost and how many people are in jail/prison because of alcohol related problems, while the real criminals are making a profit.....well....maybe if the critical mass filed a class action lawsuit. Thanks for catching up, Vern. I enjoy hearing from you.


imatellmuva profile image

imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

I'm glad that I came up when I did...at a time when going outside to play was cool, and going to your friends house was normal.

As a younger parent I didn't see how the social ills of society could have a damaging effect...and then I became an older parent.

Social media has stricken children and makes them vulnerable to more than we can imagine. This is not to suggest that issues weren't present in my hayday, but simply to acknowledge that the issues are more prevalent. Kids are exposed to things that makes it nearly impossible for parents to curb the exposures, especially outside of the home.

I listened to a parent say that they were going to make their child get off of a social media site. I thought well, that's fine and dandy, but what's to stop the child from creating another profile under an assumed name, and use their friends phone or computer to do it!

You've hit the nail on the head with this one...and it's down right scary!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

A parent wants a child to be tech and social media savvy, and might even be fearful of their child not keeping up if it's the way of the future. I'm not real big on government regulation but I am a big fan of corporate social responsibility and what vern refers to in an above comment as the critical mass.

I just read another article about 3% o the population spending 50% of health care costs, mostly due to chronic diseases that are preventable, such as those from long term alcohol use, and I can't help but conclude that the best way to reduce health care costs is to get rid of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and sweets... and maybe even automobiles! Good think I'm not campaigning for the presidency. I wouldn't get any votes. Thanks for your thoughts, imatellmuva.


imatellmuva profile image

imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

I'd vote for you...kimho39 for PREZ!!!

I had a tight reign on my son coming up, but all else I could do was hope that the morals and standards I displayed in the home were absorbed by him ouside of the home when he was not in my presence.

Outside influences and peer pressure can be damaging. I didn't think I would become the parent who constantly talked about what it was like when I was growing up. As I went through the journey of parenting I would come to understand why my parents did it. One reason is to show comparison's of simpler times, and to help foster an infleunce that will possibly shape your child into someone who will not succumb to negative pressures.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago Author

I really do believe early parenting makes a big difference, although kids can and do still go astray. It would be nice if kids could play safe whether they are outside or online!

Thanks for the vote and watch out for spotted things in the grocery store. That was a funny hub - still laughing:)


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

This becomes a staggering article when your reading it. Oh how many young lives are destroyed or altered for the worse by over indulging and misusing alcohol. Down through the years I've often wondered why this and that one made it and this and that one didn't. Hindsight is 20/20 only if your around to use it. Btw Kim, I read your self-delusion hub when it came out and thought it was quite good.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 4 years ago Author

It's interesting that we have been successful at anti smoking campaigns but not at anti drinking. It's still so very much a part of culture and lifestyle. We could be as aggressive in banning alcohol advertisements as we have been with cigarette ads. Right about hindsight! Thanks for reading and commenting Alastar. I'm wondering about your civil war hub and how many of those young southern men were imbibing to cope with the reality of war they found themselves in.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Many young-and older men back then were abstainers believe it or not. Morality was more in force I guess. But for those that did it was generally made at home or the neighborhood. Of course that began to change some after the war when the Fed. Govt. decided it wanted the tax revenues lol. Kim in the Re-enactors story one hefty young fella liked to brag about his capacity for fermented beverages until one reenactment when his bluff was called rather humorously. Mmm mmm good and then on the ground with a smile.:)


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 4 years ago Author

very interesting. that makes sense that morals would be stronger then and would deter use more. thanks for coming back to post that additional info, AP.


pooilum profile image

pooilum 4 years ago from Malaysia

This si great information. Thanks for sharing


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 4 years ago Author

Thank you pooilum. I hope you find it useful.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota

I have always felt that the media has a piece in the problem with underage drinking. If you remember, I live with my twin sister and her two teenage kids, so this article is very informative and scary for me. Sis and I are feeling very confident about how our kiddos are handling the drinking and drugs as teens and not 'following the crowd' as my dad use to say. You did a great job on this important topic. I hit many buttons.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 4 years ago Author

Thank you Minnetonka Twin:) Yes, I recall....and I was really surprised when I first learned how teens are targeted for online marketing... how we all are really, but especially teens with alcohol ads. Thanks for stopping in and hitting all those buttons:)


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

Just catching up on some reading so coming to this a bit late. This is very interesting as I had not realised that different rules apply to social media. Underage drinking has been an issue in the UK, and Scotland in particular, for a long time - since I was a teenager at least, if not longer.

I found it interesting that the earlier someone starts drinking the more likely they are to go on to have problems; it makes sense. I know of so many people whose lives have been taken over by alcohol and many early deaths, and with most of them it was clear early on that their drinking was out of control.

While advertising on social media won't help a vulnerable kid, I do think that it really only reflects the dominant culture and to make changes we need to look at our own attitudes and the way we respond to our kids. I actually wrote a novel about this because I was so tired of the way that some Scottish writers glorified the alcohol culture and I wanted to show the other side.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 4 years ago Author

I'd love to hear more about that novel, Melovy. I love your focus on quality of life. I've worked with adults whose parents got them drunk at age 7; some since infancy - alcohol in the bottle to make them sleep. Usually a person who seems to be able to "handle their liquor" better than everyone is showing early signs of a problem, but those that start out in early childhood are showing less tolerance by adolescence - a sign of late stage alcoholism that is usually seen in older alcoholics. Thanks for your comment, Melovy....and feel free to leave a link for your novel:)


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

Kim, what you wrote about those kids whose parents got them drunk at 7 or put alcohol in their bottles is so sad. I have heard that people did it with babies' bottles - it's heartbreaking really that people have so few resources to cope. I had never thought about this leading to people having alcoholism problems as teenagers, but it does of course make sense that would follow. I do hope more awareness leads to people being able to make changes.

Thanks for asking about my novel. It's only available on Kindle at the moment, and Gail (Happyboomernurse) gave it 5 stars, which I am thrilled about. If you'd like a look it's http://www.amazon.com/Drawings-In-Sand-ebook/dp/B0...


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 4 years ago Author

Wow. Stella's a hot mess! I added an amazon capsule above with Gail's comments. Your novel really does capture the ugly side of alcohol! Kudos to you, Melovy, for a profound message presented in a compelling story line.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

Kim, thank you so much for that!


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 4 years ago Author

well it may be thanks for nothing. I'm not seeing the amazon capsule but when I go into edit, it is there. hmmm.


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

It's definitely showing on my computer! Very strange.

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