Does drinking make teens more popular? A new study indicates that this may be true.
The study found that middle- and high-school aged kids who drank were also those who considered themselves the most popular. For the study, researchers from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality in Rockville, Md., looked at data from a national study of seventh through 12th graders from 132 schools who were surveyed in 1994. In the survey, kids were asked all kinds of questions about their drinking and substance abuse habits as well as the number of friends they had and their home life.
The results showed that teenagers who reported drinking occasionally — and getting drunk — were more likely to have a wider circle of friends than those who abstained. In fact, researchers found that "getting drunk" seemed to be an important element for popularity as the kids who did it reported having even more friends than those who simply drank every now and again.
Interesting. Is it just me, or is anyone else wondering if the kids who drank simply thought they had more friends? The more they drank, the more friends they thought they had.
Also, just because a kid reports having fewer friends doesn't mean that she is unhappy with the number of friends that she has or that she sees drinking as a way to get more friends.
And finally, can the thoughts and opinions of people who were kids in 1994 really be extrapolated to represent the thoughts and opinions of kids today? As much as it pains me to realize it, 1994 was 20 years ago and a lot has changed since then — including kids attitudes about drinking.
I'm not saying that I think this study is inaccurate, but I am saying that it jumps to conclusions pretty quickly about what kids in the '90s thought made them popular, and what kids today think. And it also adds more weight to popularity in general than may be necessary.
Parents, it's always a good idea to talk to kids about drinking and the health repercussions that go along with it. But I'm just not sure that studies like this one really give us the tools we need to do that effectively with today's teenagers.
What do you think?
Source: Addictive Behaviors
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