WERNERSVILLE, Pa., June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Parents who think
their teens' online conversations with their peers are innocent may want to
reconsider. A new Caron Treatment Centers qualitative study conducted by
Nielsen BuzzMetrics found that 1 in 10 messages analyzed involved teens
seeking advice from their peers on how to take illicit drugs "safely" and
without getting caught. The messages were posted on common online message
boards, forums and social networks, such as MySpace.com, ym.com and
teenspot.com, among others.
The study also found that in messages about alcohol, hooking up and
having sex when drinking were the top behaviors discussed by teens. While a
few teens expressed regret over things they did while drunk, many chalked
it up to "fun," "being wasted" and "having a good time." While both genders
discussed hooking up and sex, more girls than boys talked about it, where
gender was identifiable.
More than 160,000 of the 10.3 million messages posted by teens were
about drugs or alcohol. Despite increased focus on drug trends, such as
abuse of prescription medications like oxycontin and club favorites like
ecstasy, less "trendy" substances were more commonly discussed. Almost 80
percent of the messages posted by teens mentioned alcohol, marijuana,
cocaine and acid/LSD.
"While much attention has been given to adult sexual predators preying
on teens online, it's important for parents to know that their teen's
conversations with peers can be equally dangerous," said David Rotenberg,
executive director of Adolescent Services at Caron, the industry's leading
authority on adolescent addiction treatment. "This study and our teen
glossary will provide parents with the tools needed to better understand
how to talk to their teens about drugs and alcohol."
Caron's review of online teen talk around alcohol and drugs was
prompted by concerns from adolescent counselors at the Pennsylvania-based
rehab facility. Teens mentioned how easily and freely they could chat with
peers online about drugs and alcohol -- and how falling in with the wrong
"virtual crowd" often proved as destructive as a "real life" group.
"It used to be enough for parents to know their teens' friends," said
Doug Tieman, President and CEO of Caron. "However, the online revolution
requires parents to be much more sophisticated in terms of understanding
not only how their teens are spending time online, but also what they are
Other findings from the study include:
Teens confess that they engage in destructive behaviors when under the
influence of drugs and alcohol.
-- Teens said that parties are more fun when alcohol is available or if
they are already drunk. 1 in 10 messages about alcohol featured teens
talking about drinking when partying. They frequently mentioned "pre-
game," a popular term used to describe the practice of getting drunk
-- The most prevalent theme in marijuana messages was destructive
behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, cutting class
or self mutilation while high.
Teens are concerned about how drugs and alcohol affect their
relationships with family and friends.
-- In those messages that gender was identifiable, more girls than boys
discussed alcohol online. Girls talked about romantic relationships and
hooking up/having sex when drinking. Boys shared information and
stories about drunken experiences.
-- Teens were concerned about friends and loved ones who are drinking
alcohol or smoking marijuana (This was the second most prevalent
marijuana discussion and the sixth most prevalent alcohol discussion).
More girls than boys voiced their concern, generally for a boyfriend or
In response to the findings, Caron has created a "teen speak" glossary
of common slang terms for drugs and alcohol online. It will be posted on
the Caron Web site, www.caron.org, along with parenting tips for talking to
teens about online activities and drugs/alcohol.
Caron Treatment Centers
Caron Treatment Centers is a nationally recognized non-profit provider
of alcohol and drug addiction treatment. Now celebrating its 50th
anniversary, Caron offers primary, relapse and extended residential
treatment for adults and adolescents, as well as families affected by the
disease of addiction. Caron's programs are gender separate and gender
specific. Caron has extensive experience in the treatment of co-occurring
psychological/psychiatric disorders within our patient community. Nearly 86
percent of adolescent patients treated at Caron have co-occurring
disorders. Formerly the Caron Foundation, Caron Treatment Centers operates
a residential treatment center in Wernersville, in southeastern
Pennsylvania; a regional office in Philadelphia; Renaissance Institute of
Palm Beach, an extended care treatment center in Boca Raton, Florida; and a
recovery center in New York City. For more information, visit
For the study, Nielsen BuzzMetrics used proprietary software and
analytic methodology to tap into the unaided conversations teens have in
online communities, including web message boards, discussion forums and
blogs. Analysts used a combination of automated and manual techniques to
identify individual communities that include teen focused discussion and
discussion on drugs and alcohol use. The analysts then gained insight into
how teens discuss drugs and alcohol online.
SOURCE Caron Treatment Centers