In 2011, Swedish teenagers are taking fewer drugs and drinking less alcohol than they have over the past 40 years, according to a leading research group. What makes the study particularly interesting is that the findings suggest video games have played a major part in this shift.
The Swedish Council for Information on Alcohol and Other Drugs (CAN) spoke to 46,000 local youngsters to discover their habits when it came to drinking and illicit substances.
Just 55% of 15 and 16-year old boys had tried alcohol in the past year – a drop of more than 20% over the past decade, and the lowest figure since CAN started keeping track of these things back in 1971.
And it’s not just booze – there was also a steep decline in the use of other drugs and even cigarettes.
CAN director Bjorn Hibel told local newspaper Dagens Nyheter (as reported by English site [surl=http://www.thelocal.se/34748/20110705/]The Local[/surl]):
We see similar developments in other Nordic countries, and also in the United States. It seems to be an international trend.
The group made another interesting discovery – more Swedish girls have started drinking (and smoking), compared to their male counterparts. 59 per cent of female respondents told CAN they had consumed alcohol in the past 12 months. This is where the video game theory comes in (coupled with a little stereotyping), as Hibell explains:
Sitting by the computer playing games is perhaps more boy-oriented than girl-oriented. That might be a contributing factor.
But a Swedish sobriety organisation, IOGT-NTO has agreed with CAN’s findings, suggesting that gaming may indeed play a part in keeping young people off the sauce.
Anna Carlstedt, head of IOGT-NTO observes:
When you play computer games, or rehearse with your rock band, it doesn’t work to be drunk. This is incredibly positive.
As much as we’d like to take all the credit, this teen sobriety doesn’t all come down to video games. A Swedish youth sobriety organisation claims that many Nordic teens are bucking western trends, and rebelling against their parents by not drinking. They’re “incredibly tired” of their parents and other grown-ups drinking to excess, so – in their own way – this is “a protest against the adult world”.
…that, and they want to maintain their good reflexes for a quick game of Team Fortress 2, of course.
Snönubben Julsnaps picture CC, by rick
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