The message is clear: When it comes to online chat, the buzz among teens is sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.
A new study conducted and released by Nielsen BuzzMetrics found that 1 in 10 messages posted on common Internet message forums such as MySpace.com, ym.com and teenspot.com show that teens give and seek advice on how to take illicit drugs “safely” without getting caught.
The study also found that “hooking up” and having sex while consuming alcohol where the top behaviors teens talked about online. Teens said that parties were generally more fun when alcohol was consumed and some said that they combined alcohol consumption with smoking cigarettes and using marijuana.
“While much attention has been given to adult predators preying on teens online, it’s important for parents to know conversations with peers can be equally dangerous,” David Rotenberg, Executive Director of Adolescent Services at Caron Treatment Center, said in a release.
More than 160,000 of the 10.3 million messages posted by teens were about drugs or alcohol, the study explained. While there was a noticeable emphasis placed on recently “trendy” substances such as ecstasy and prescription medications, almost 80 percent of the drug-related messages posted by teens mentioned alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and acid/LSD.
While both boys and girls shared detailed stories about their drunken experiences, more girls discussed their experiences online than boys did. Girls generally spoke of romantic relationships and having sex when drinking.
However, teens of both genders expressed concern about friends and loved ones who had showed a tendency to drink or use marijuana excessively. Girls voiced this concern more than boys did, normally referring to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
The study was initiated after adolescent counselors at the facility said teens repeatedly talked about how easily they could chat with peers online about drugs and alcohol.
Doug Tieman, President and CEO of Caron, said that it’s important for parents to be aware of what their teenagers are saying online, and to whom.
“It used to be enough for parents to know their teens’ friends,” Tieman said in a release. “However, the online revolution requires parents to be much more sophisticated in terms of understanding not only how their teens are spending time online, but also what they are talking about.”
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