The increased trend of non-drinking alcohol among adolescents: What role do internet activities have? Academic Article uri icon


  • Background:Recently, an increased trend toward non-drinking among adolescents has been observed in several countries. The aim of the present study is to evaluate a common suggestion in literature, that adolescents do not drink alcohol because they spend more time on the internet, monitored at home, by examining associations between internet activities (social media/chatting and computer gaming) and non-drinking. Methods:A health questionnaire was distributed to all 9th graders (15-16 years) in a mid-sized Swedish county in 2008, 2010 and 2012. In total, 7089 students returned the questionnaire. Results:In contrast to the suggestion, no association was found between total time spent on computers and non-drinking. Social media/chatting was robustly associated with a decreased probability of non-drinking across the three survey years. On the other hand, computer gaming during weekends only (OR = 1.74, CI = 1.13-2.69) or both on weekdays and weekends increased the probability of non-drinking (OR = 1.82, CI = 1.31-2.54) in 2012 only. However, neither social media/chatting nor computer gaming was associated with the increased trend of non-drinking from 2008 to 2012. Conclusions:Internet activities were in general not associated with non-drinking among adolescents aged 15-16 years in Sweden. Although, a weak positive association between computer gaming and non-drinking was found in 2012, this effect benefited the vast majority of the boys. The larger alcohol use among those with extensive social media use/chatting may indicate that these online platforms are arenas where adolescents are exposed for positive alcohol preferences and alcohol advertising without parental supervision.

publication date

  • 2019