Young people drinking less: Why are young people drinking less than earlier

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Melbourne / Stockholm
With the end of the year, there is a series of parties in the offices, Christmas lunch and celebrations to welcome the new year. Especially in western countries, on this occasion, youth also get a lot of opportunity to drink alcohol. But something unexpected has happened since the turn of this century. Young people in Australia, the UK, the Nordic countries and North America are on average drinking significantly less alcohol than their parents when they were their age. During the Covid lockdown, some surveys suggest that this trend has further declined.

Sarah J McLean of Melbourne’s La Trobe University, Amy Penney, Gabriel Caluzzi, John Holmes of Sheffield University and Jukka Toronen of Stockholm University have done extensive research on this topic. He said that our research shows that it is unlikely that this trend of youth cutting down on alcohol consumption was due to government efforts. Widespread social, cultural, technological and economic changes seem to be the cause of these declines. Researchers who conducted interview-based studies with young people in several countries have identified four main reasons for the decline in youth drinking. These are: uncertainty and worry about the future, anxiety about health, changes in technology and leisure, and changes in relationships with parents.

odd Future
Being young in developed countries today is very different than in previous generations. From climate change to being able to plan careers and buy a home, young people know their future is uncertain. The pressure to do well academically starts early and rates of mental illness are on the rise. Many young people are thinking about the future in ways that previous generations did not need to think about. They are trying to gain a sense of control over their lives and secure the future they aspire to.

A few decades ago, getting drunk was widely regarded by many young people as a sign of reaching adulthood and a good way to take time off from the routine of work and study. Now, young people feel the pressure to be responsible and independent at a young age, and some people drink less because they feel that if this happens, they will lose control over themselves. Will jeopardize their future plans. This emphasis on future plans means that young people put a limit to the amount of time they spend partying and drinking.

youth are health conscious
The importance of health and well-being for young people also appears to be increasing rapidly. Research from 15-20 years ago found that young people of that time viewed the effects of drinking too much (vomiting, fainting) positively or did not give much importance to it. Recent studies show that the attitude of youth in this regard has changed. Young people are now concerned about the mental health effects of drinking alcohol and the health effects of its continued use. However, Australian and Swedish research also found that some young people consider the social benefits of drinking to be important to themselves. However, many young people insisted on moderate consumption of alcohol, while those in the 1990s and early 2000s drank heavily.

What if my office executives noticed?
Technology has changed the way youth socialize, with the paradoxical effects of drinking alcohol. Social media has provided liquor companies with new (less regulated) avenues to promote their products. It’s common to be seen on social media with a drink while celebrating at a party. Still, young people are also careful in managing their online images. Our research found that young people are concerned about who can see their photos on social media (such as friends, family and future employers), a new kind of risk for this generation. The Internet offers young people a wide range of possibilities, including new perspectives to enable them to make better choices than to drink alcohol. It also offers social alternatives that are less likely to cause drinking, including video games and other digital media.

changing family relationships
The styles of raising teenagers and managing their introduction to alcohol have evolved over the course of a generation. Many parents monitor their children during night outs and monitor their drinking more closely than in previous generations, which is possible through the mobile phones of most young people. Young people also now spend more time with their parents, developing better relationships based on interactions that reduce their need to drink and rebel.

Drinking is no longer ‘cool’
There are many other reasons why young people limit alcohol consumption, including culture and religious affiliations, health status, and personal motivation. Altogether, these changes mean that many young people no longer consider drunkenness to be “cool” and no longer see it as a major sign of independence and adulthood. Alcohol consumption has become more socially accepted among young people, along with less alcohol consumption. Of course, some young people will continue to drink too much and get drunk around holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Eve. But it is certain that if young people continue to reduce alcohol consumption, it is because of the broader context of their own lives, not the policies implemented by their governments.


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