A Moment of Science

Should Adults Allow Supervised Teen Drinking?

Teenagers are going to experiment with alcohol. Learn about a study that followed teens that had adult supervised drinking.

hand in shadow reaching for an empty glass

Photo: Laura Thorne (Flickr)

Some parents allow supervised underage drinking.

Teenagers experiment with alcohol. In many countries and societies, that’s just a fact. And so many parents of teenagers may think that it’s a good idea to teach their kids to drink responsibly by having a few drinks with them.

But according to at least one study, drinking with teens is not a good idea. In fact, it’s a very bad idea.

Drinking Issues

The study argues that kids who are allowed to drink under adult supervision are more likely to develop drinking problems than kids whose parents have a hard and fast policy on their not drinking until they turn twenty-one.

Now, this might strike you as strange and even unlikely. Will allowing your teenage kids to have a beer or two or a glass of wine with dinner really turn them into alcoholics. No, not in such absolute terms.

Young Drinkers

But the study, which followed 7th grade teens in Australia and Washington State for one year, found that those allowed to drink under adult supervision were more likely to have had a bad experience related to alcohol. Things like becoming violently drunk, or getting injured while drunk.

Other studies have shown that kids are four times more likely to become alcoholics if they start drinking before the age of fifteen.

Unwanted Desire

It’s not entirely clear why allowing kids to drink under supervision raises the risk of later drinking problems. Experts speculate that it could make drinking excessively seem acceptable or more desirable than it otherwise would be.

In any case, the studies clearly suggest that when it comes to teen drinking, parents do best to draw a firm line and not allow their kids to drink until they’re legal.

All of this can make a parent think. Would you/do you allow your teen to drink underage?

Read More:

  • Letting teen drink under parent’s watch backfires (MSNBC)
  • http://twitter.com/DarkAgePearl Pearl of the DarkAge

    I think half a glass on special occasions is fine. Parents should supervise, with supervise being the key word. It’s more than just letting your kids drink in front of you; it’s taking responsibility for them. Kids should not be allowed to drink more than half a serving per hour.

  • Pingback: Why Do Teens Make Dumb Decisions? | A Moment of Science - Indiana Public Media

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