Culture Snapshot: Benefits of Teen Drinking Don’t Outweigh the Dangers

Culture Snapshot: Benefits of Teen Drinking Don’t Outweigh the Dangers –

A Purdue University study found that teen girls might benefit from having a few beers with friends. Really. Before we dismiss the notion as crazy, it’s important to note that research does not often deal with morals and values, but with behaviors their effects, and their causes.

In this case, the researchers reached their conclusion noting that teen girls who occasionally had a few beers with friends were less depressed because of their ability to “blow off steam, get together, have fun, and joke around with their peers.”

On face value, teen drinking is largely a social behavior. Not many occasional teen drinkers are pounding beers by themselves.

But the study was unclear as to the role the beer drinking played. Could it be that the social interaction itself — the blowing off steam, getting together, having fun, and joking around with peers –was the cause of the benefits? Frankly, it is likely that the beer drinking only provided the context for the social interaction to take place between teens. Perhaps the important (but lost) finding was that social interaction among teens reduces depression.

Let’s be clear: teen drinking –whatever the context — is far more dangerous than any perceived benefits might imply.

Studies have shown that teen drinking can lead to dangerous consequences, such as driving while drinking, alcohol poisoning, and sexual abuses. Occasional drinking for teens can also lead to heavier drinking, drunkenness, alcoholism, and other at-risk behaviors.

Yes, there’s a good possibility that your teenager will experiment with alcohol before he or she graduates from high school, but hang in there. Stay the course in setting clear expectations and consequences for drinking. Helping your kids make wise choices regarding alcohol is the best course of action.

And when it comes to social interaction among teens, yes, there are some great benefits in providing kids with opportunities to be kids: to blow off steam, have fun, and joke around with peers. But surely you can help them to identify and choose better options than drinking beer.