The Spectacle Blog

The Beer Spectator: Better for Teens to Drink Than Play It Safe

By on 6.13.14 | 5:05PM

The United States struggles with imparting its drinking culture to the young. As one of the few countries with a twenty-one-and-over drinking age, teenagers usually don’t discover the wonders of booze until college. On campus, fraternity parties and dorm drinking inevitably lead to excess. Freshmen get drunk, get sick, and learn about their tolerances with each can of Natty Light and cup of jungle juice.

To confront this, parents should start incorporating wine and beer into the family dinner during high school.

Of course, that’s if teenagers even want to drink alcohol. They may just want to smoke weed and play video games.

Unfortunately, kids today spend more time in front of a screen than any other generation, whether the device is a TV, mobile phone, or computer screen.  

Our youths mostly play it safe. Instead of drinking, smoking tobacco, and exercising, these teenagers play video games.

According to a survey of 13,000 high school students:

American teens are smoking less, drinking less and fighting less…. But in one of the largest jumps seen in the survey, there was a surge in the proportion of kids who spent three or more hours on an average school day on other kinds of recreational screen time, such as playing video or computer games or using a computer or smartphone for something other than schoolwork. That number rose to 41 percent, from 31 percent in 2011.

American teens are also smoking more marijuana—often while being physically isolated in a world of online “social” media. Drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, while hazardous to their health, at least encourage some form of social interaction.

Smoking weed while playing Call of Duty: Black Ops underlies an increasing retreat from social institutions, especially those of church and state. It all corresponds with an increase of religious “nones,” as well as a larger number of political independents among those aged eighteen to thirty-three.

Teens are living “healthier” and safer lives. There’s no risk in front of the TV, and it’s easier to read your phone than to introduce yourself to others.

I want to see teens sneak out of their homes to see their girlfriends for a beer or two. I want to hear about sixteen-year-olds stealing a pack from their fathers’ offices to experience that first nicotine high with high school friends.

The screen phenomenon robs even our youngest of their creativity. When we have that instant gratification, it's a distraction from actual physical interaction.

Those risky experiences enrich life. We don’t remember the medals we win in Halo, nor do we cherish season finales. But we do remember that first Budweiser.

“Safety” and “health” don't awaken the soul. Fraternity does. Adventure does.

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