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Monday, May 24, 2010

Social Media and Young Drinkers

"It's a completely Wild West environment" said Jeff Chester, report co-author.

The most important part of one's life is the developmental stages, which is when the building blocks that will be the foundation of who you become are set in mortar. All future experiences, both happiness and sorrow rest heavily upon one's influences and actions early on. There are many people who believe that alcoholism and addiction are something that people develop over long periods of time; sadly, there is no age limit on addiction and habits can appear over night without a child thinking anything of it. For that reason, it is crucial that we educate as well as shield our youth so that they can fully understand where their actions can take them; not to mention the more you talk about drugs and alcohol with you children, the more willing they will be to open up with you if they have a problem.

That being said, it makes you wonder why alcohol companies are able to use new social media tools to send messages to potential young drinkers who are easily influenced. There is a new report that was recently published that dealt with Alcohol Marketing in the Digital Age by Kathryn Montgomery a professor at American University. Health Day News reported that Montgomery said that alcohol is being sold through "a multiplicity of platforms throughout the day and night that includes online, offline, mobile, digital, music, video - a whole range of different ways that consumers interact with new digital marketing". Social media networks see dollar signs when it comes to advertising, which makes sense, but, when a significant amount of the user population are under 21 years of age it is wrong to bombard them with alcohol ads.

"There's a whole stealth world of marketing that occurs in social-media spaces," said study co-author Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy. Heineken had a virtual online city developed, visitors can:

  • create digital apartments
  • get free storage
  • e-mail
  • earn points based on how long they stay on the site

The Distilled Spirits Council believes that the Internet is used, mostly, by adults, "which makes these platforms responsible and appropriate channels for spirits marketers". We all know that the Internet age caters to a much younger community, there are more people under 21 on social networks every day than there are people over 21. Alcohol companies should show restraint despite the obvious lack of regulation. Children have enough drug and alcohol influences every day without the help of MySpace and FaceBook!

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