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  • Lauri Beekmann

Survey: Nearly half of minors obtain their alcohol through social media

Ehkäisevän päihdetyön asiantuntija
Piipponen Mika

16.05.2024 - According to a recent survey by Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention EHYT ry, approximately 69% of minors feel that obtaining alcohol for their own use is easy. 40% of minors reported obtaining their alcohol through social media channels. The survey asked about young people's own alcohol use and their attitudes towards alcohol consumption. The online panel survey was answered by 1,008 Finns aged 15-29 in January 2024.

Social media today plays a significant role in distributing alcohol to minors, serving as a marketplace for both purchasing and selling substances. According to EHYT ry's survey, 40% of 15-17-year-old Finns get their alcohol specifically through social media channels. In addition to alcohol, a large amount of nicotine products is also distributed to young people via social media.

"Social media has made it easy for minors to buy and sell substances. Young people say it’s easy to get exactly what they want and as much as they want from there. They don’t even necessarily have to look for a supplier, as they often come across substance sales ads on social media," says Mika Piipponen, an expert at EHYT ry.

Minors found obtaining alcohol slightly more difficult than in a similar survey conducted two years ago. Now, 69% of 15-17-year-olds felt that obtaining alcohol as a minor was somewhat or very easy.

The desire to relax or have fun, and the good feeling brought by alcohol, were found to be the most common reasons for minors to use alcohol. Peer pressure and permissive attitudes from guardians were also increasingly mentioned as reasons for alcohol use. This year, 46% of minors cited peer pressure as a reason for alcohol use, compared to 39% in 2022. 18% reported that a permissive attitude from guardians is a reason for their alcohol use, up from 11% two years ago.

"Parents may buy beer or cider for their child, thinking that by doing so they can control the young person's drinking and be aware of what they drink. In reality, this only sends the message that underage drinking is allowed and accepted. By buying alcohol, parents can’t influence how much the young person drinks; in addition to the drinks bought by parents, young people also consume other beverages," Piipponen continues.

Alcohol almost always reaches minors through another person

The proportion of sober youth has been rising in recent years. Although young people's alcohol use has been decreasing, the School Health Survey showed that 33% of lower secondary school students used alcohol in 2023. Additionally, 29% of the 15-17-year-old respondents in our recent survey reported having obtained alcohol as minors. However, this figure had decreased from 2022, when 35% of minors reported having obtained alcohol.

Despite the decrease in usage, 29% of minors felt that their peer group's attitude towards alcohol use had become more positive over the past year. In 2022, 20% of minors thought this way.

Alcohol usually reaches minors through someone else’s purchase. According to the School Health Survey, about 88% of the alcohol consumed by minors is obtained through an intermediary. 42% of lower secondary school students who used alcohol received it from family members, either given by a parent or sibling or stolen from home.

"The school and educational institution graduation weekend is approaching. For some young people, it is still a celebration that includes alcohol. So now is the time for us adults to remember to refuse if a young person asks us to buy it for them," Piipponen reminds.

Preventive Substance Abuse Work EHYT ry examined how trendy young people perceive substances to be and how their peer groups view substance use. The survey was conducted as a web panel by Suomen Online-tutkimus. The survey was conducted in January 2024, targeting 15-29-year-old Finns. The panel was answered by 1,008 people.

EHYT ry's "Hakematta paras" campaign challenges adults to consider their role in minors' alcohol use. The campaign is active on social media during weeks 21 and 22.


Source: EHYT ry

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