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Children exposed to images of drunkenness via social media

Published:  14 August, 2013

More than a third of children have seen pictures of their drunk friends on social media, according to new research.

A report from alcohol education charity Drinkaware found that 39% of children aged 10-17 who use social networking sites report seeing images of their friends drunk, including 13% of children as young as 10-12 years old. The study conducted by Ipsos MORI claims online networking sites could have a "significant influence on young people's perceptions of normal drinking behaviour".

The research findings show how the influence of peers increases with age. Seven per cent of 10-11 year olds report being encouraged to drink by someone their age or younger, rising to 37% by the time they are 15-17 years old. A fifth of 10-17 year olds say that all or most of their friends drink alcohol.

Anne Foster, director of marketing and communications at Drinkaware, said: "Children as young as 10 are seeing drunkenness normalised through images - whether this is online, in the media or through their own experiences. Undoubtedly, friends are influential in shaping the way young people think about alcohol, but just as influential are parents who can provide support and advice to help children cope with these pressures.

"Our research shows that most children will go to their parents first for information and advice about alcohol. While that is reassuring for parents to know, it also shows how important it is that parents feel confident and well prepared to have those conversations."

Eileen Hayes MBE, patron of Parenting UK and Drinkaware Mumtank member, said: "Our children might reassure us that they aren't interested in going out to get drunk, but we all know that, faced with a difficult situation, the reality can turn out differently. This is especially so for a generation growing up with pictures of their friends getting drunk on social media sites.

"This is why it's so important that we talk to our children about how to make good decisions about alcohol and avoid doing things when drunk that can come back to haunt them online. What might appear funny or clever when drunk can feel silly and embarrassing in the cold light of day."

Parents can get tips and advice on talking to their children about alcohol at