Alcohol and the Internet: A Dangerous Combo for Teens

Before the Internet ruled our daily lives, the only way to gain access to alcohol as a kid was to raid your parent’s alcohol liquor cabinet, put the used bottles in the back and hope they never noticed.

Instant Alcohol Delivered?

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Today, modern technology has made access to alcohol as easy as clicking a button. Believe it or not, people can log on and order up beer, wine and spirits...a service that many underage drinkers are now taking full advantage of.

While no brick-and-mortar liquor store would sell alcohol to teenagers for fear of losing their business, online vendors that sell alcohol have circumvented that potential issue for underage drinkers.

A recent study out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that minors attempting to purchase alcohol were successful 45 percent of the time. Because the names of many online alcohol vendors don’t specifically reference alcohols, many parents often glance past the charge when reviewing their credit card statements.

A Common and Dangerous Trend

In recent years, alcohol delivery apps have also become a common trend. Whether it’s Minibar, Drizly, Booze Carriage or Thirstie, the apps allow users to order alcohol from their iPhone and have it delivered it to their doorsteps within an hour.

Even some former teen idols have begun promoting these apps as soon as they became of legal age to drink. Former boy bander Nick Jonas is now an investor in a California-based alcohol delivery app called Saucey. Last month, he participated in a promotional stunt for the company by personally delivering booze and pouring shots for several customers in West Hollywood.

The Legal Loopholes

Although laws have been in place for the last several years that require alcohol marketers to restrict their advertising to where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is old enough to by alcohol legally, kids are still regularly exposed to alcohol advertising.

A 2003 study from The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that 55 booze websites tracked in the second half of that year received nearly 700,000 unique views from underage visitors.

Proactive Parenting is Key

If you’re concerned that your child might be ordering alcohol online, there are ways for you to take back control. One of the best places to start is by limiting your teen's access to the digital world. Qustodio is a parental control software system that will let you block certain categories of websites, including alcohol-related sites or even ones that simply advertise alcohol.

You should also check your teenager’s bank statements, along with keeping a close eye on your credit cards. Scan through the purchases much more thoroughly than you usually would, that way you can detect any unusual withdrawals or purchases.

Most importantly, you should talk to them honestly about the dangers of underage drinking and why they should avoid it. While restricting online content is a good short-term solution, helping them understand why they shouldn’t drink at a young age is more likely to create the long-term effects that you desire.

 

Additional ReadingHIV-Positive Men Need Fewer Drinks to Get Buzzed

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