So, do you want the good news or the bad news first?
The good news – teen drinking is on the decline. Research shows that the proportion of 14-17 year olds who had not consumed alcohol in the last year jumped from 32.9 per cent in 2001 up to 50.2 per cent in 2010.
The bad news? The reason that teens are drinking less is the fact they are too preoccupied with the internet.
The Daily Telegraph article thinks this is an encouraging trend. But I have to admit that I’m a bit torn on this one – which is better? Underage drinking or excessive internet use?
Let’s look at underage drinking first. There’s nothing great about it, and it’s true that it could increase the instance of alcohol abuse or addiction later in life. But often, I feel like it would be a passing phase: something that the kids would get over eventually. And if it does become a problem, at least it would be a problem that would make itself quite obvious to the person’s family and friends.
As for excessive internet use, somehow this worries me more. It’s a more subtle problem that flies under the radar, and far from fading off later in life, it would probably become even more of an ingrained habit. Studies show that too much social media can trigger qualities of both narcissism and unhealthy self-image, not to mention that the internet allows dangers like pornography to become easily accessible.
Obviously, neither trend is ideal. But what do you think? I don’t have kids yet, but for those of you who do – would you prefer your teen to experiment with underage drinking or to be forever on their laptop or smartphone?