With the advent of social media, like facebook, twitter and Myspace, drug talk can be kept on the corridors of the internet. The new peer pressure is digital. Millions of kids now have mobile phones on which they share pictures and other information. A recent study of teen online messages showed that the most common conversations have to do with using drugs, partying, drinking alcohol and hooking up.
A survey was conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, photographs of kids at a party where drugs and alcohol were used. The survey concluded that close to 5.5 million teens in the survey divulged that pictures they saw of a party, looked like the kids were having fun. The very presence of pictures, made them more likely to try drugs or alcohol. The survey went on to show kids who viewed party-type pictures were four times more likely to have used marijuana, three times more likely to have used alcohol and almost three times more likely to have used cigarettes.
Every generation of parents has had to keep on top of their kids’ activities. Each year the outcome of kids taking drugs moves up the danger meter. Presently, both kids and adults are in the red zone, because drug taking too often ends in death.
How can parents compete with digital peer pressure? Parents want to trust their kids. They want them to follow the rules for safety you’ve discussed with them hundreds of times before they leave the house for a party. Teens have to try on their new wings and they often break rules. An older kid might bully them into trying a drug or drink. Kids brains aren’t developmentally ready to think through a whole situation, so they take the drug. Other kids are able to restrain from peer pressure, and turn away from drugs.
Parents have many resources and options for combating peer pressure that leads to drug taking. They don’t want to spy on their kids, but they can put controls on kids’ mobile phones. They can spend more time with them in activities their teen enjoys. Parents can encourage their teen to get involved with extracurricular activities like sports, band, computer clubs, drama, student council, honor society, and an outdoor club.
One important tool parents can use is watching for abnormal or negative behavior. While many kids go through a rebellious stage, parents can usually tell what is normal and in what to be concerned.
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