As parents, we know it is our duty to keep our kids safe. Safe from mean kids, or bad teachers, or harmful relationships, or drugs or alcohol. We know some kids at school might be bad influences on our child, and we get that we should warn our kids about the drug dealers and strangers on the street. But are you aware of the risks your adolescent faces every time they start up their computer in your own home?
The age of technology
A new Nielsen Online study, conducted on behalf of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), measured the online viewing habits of teens, and tracked their exposure to drug-related content. The findings reveal that one in 20 teens who are viewing online videos watched one or more drug-related videos during a one-month period. The analysis found that more than a third of those viewing drug-related content are under the age of 16 (1).
Kids today have more access to drugs through technology than ever before. The Internet has countless sites that promote drug and alcohol use, that tell kids how to get away with using drugs, and that sell prescription drugs without any regulation. Some sites today even teach kids how to make their own drugs, or how to beat a drug test.
Legislation was approved by Congress last month that would regulate more closely how internet companies sell prescription drugs online. According to this legislation, no company would be able to sell prescription medication without a valid prescription from a doctor that has actually seen the patient.
While this might help with the illegal selling of prescription drugs, there are still all the other sites on the Internet that provide kids with bad information about drugs. The bottom line is that there are many people out there that prey on young people, and are willing to illegally sell them drugs, or give them information that will cause them to experiment with drugs.
Parents need to become more informed about their children’s technology usage. It’s not just computers that are the problem, either. Other forms of communication; cell phones, blackberries, and social networking sites, can all be means of easy communication about drugs. Often the information being shared has a message about teen drug abuse that may wrongly teach kids that “everyone is doing it.”
Many parents either don’t know how to use the newest technology, or don’t understand the lingo that kids code their private messages in to make them seem like innocent conversations. Parents need to spend some time on the Internet themselves, checking up on the sites their kids are visiting, and learning about the social networking sites their kids have profiles on. Rules need to be established about what their kids can and cannot do on the Internet, and (as always) be aware of who your child is communicating with, and what they are doing with their free time. It is important that you are aware of some of the many risk factors of teen drug abuse as well.
Rubenstein, Sarah New Bill Targets Rogue Druggists on the Internet Oct. 9, 2008
Fletcher Stoeltje, Melissa Dealing with teen drug use 10/6/08