There was an interesting article in The Independent in June that looked at the latest Office of National Statistics data and talked about a new phenomena on social media called cyber-shaming and how it was impacting young people’s drinking behaviour.
Facebook pictures of fresher’s week antics and boozy Saturday nights may become a thing of the past according to a recent report that shows young people are ditching drink partly due to fears of being “cybershamed” on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter
Figures show that over the last ten years the number of people aged 16-24 choosing to shun the hard stuff has overtaken the number of older teetotallers.
More than a quarter of people in their teens and early twenties are teetotal according to the report from The Office of National Statistics. Since 2005 the number of 16-24 year olds who do not drink alcohol has risen from 19 per cent to 27 per cent in 2013. While teetotalism among the over-65s has fallen only one percent from 28 per cent to 27 per cent in the same time period. The figure for 25-44 year olds was 20 per cent, and 17 per cent for 45-64 year olds.
Scenes of scantily clad youths slumped in street corners may also be dwindling as the number of teenagers and twenty something’s binge drinking, which is defined as drinking more than eight units for men and six units for women within one day, was also found to have fallen severely, from 29 per cent to 18 per cent. In older people, however, these figures rose from 4 per cent to 5 per cent.
The ONS report said: “Young adults are commonly associated with binge drinking in the media. However, the latest data about their relationship with alcohol might surprise you.”
Alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware suggested that clampdowns on off-licenses, bars and supermarkets selling alcohol to those under 21 may have been a factor in young people ditching drink.
Spokesman Kelly O’Sullivan told the DailyMail: “We’ve also seen something called ‘cyber-shame’. Young people who spend a lot of time online are quite happy to tag photos of their friend’s but are more concerned about being tagged themselves. This might curb their behaviour.”
The report also suggests that a “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle is increasingly less likely to be on the agenda for young people with fewer taking drugs and fewer having casual sex.
Reasons for this decline in young, reckless behaviour include strong campaigns to reduce alcohol consumption, young people being more strapped for cash after the recession and large numbers of young people preferring to stay in and speak to their friends online.
I personally find this really interesting because shame was such a big part of my drinking towards the end. When I was in my 20’s mobile phones didn’t exist and neither did social media, in fact most of us didn’t have computers then – and no I’m not that old, 46 to be precise! 😉 Would my drinking have calmed down sooner if these had been around? I suspect it would. Or would it have driven my drinking underground sooner, and by that I mean, drinking at home alone? I don’t know. It’s an interesting development anyway and just shows the impact that shame can have on people’s behaviour …..
Plus The Independent picked up the story in July too:
Temptations of alcohol being replaced by lure of social media for many young Britons, says new study
The sobering effect of social media – whether as a distraction or a deterrent – is cited as a factor in the decline.
“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 per cent 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,” commented Ian Wybron, co-author of the report.
“What’s more, 29 per cent of young people cited concerns about their online reputations as contributing to the decline in youth alcohol consumption – showing an increasing awareness of the ‘shareability’ of social media could be encouraging them to steer away from excessive drinking,” he added.
Other reasons given by 16-24 year olds to explain the change in drinking habits include a growing awareness of the health risks of alcohol and not being able to afford to drink.
Signalling a generation shift in attitudes, one in three young people think alcohol is more important to their parents than them.
It was this last sentence that really piqued my interest. I have been wondering aloud if we have made it uncool to our kids and this statement confirms that I think we have. For which I can only respond Hoorah!! Our lessons haven’t been in vain and they are learning from us wisely 🙂