The drinking habits of teenagers seem to have changed, with the number of teenagers now choosing not to drink alcohol having increased, according to new research from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.
In 2001, only one-third of 14-17-year-olds chose not to drink while in 2010, the number of adolescents abstaining from alcohol rose to 50%.
There are a few potential reasons for the decline in teenage drinking, says Dr Michael Livingston, the study's author.
“We have seen similar recent trends in the Nordic countries and the United States of America, all countries with strong temperance traditions and increasing public concerns about adolescent drinking”.
Another possible explanation is a shift in leisure activities, with 14-17-year-olds now using the internet more than three hours a day on average. Swedish research suggests that higher engagement with social media may result in lower drinking levels.
Dr Livingston also believes the changes could be a result of an increasingly multicultural society, with a rise in residents from typically lighter-drinking cultures.
While the decline in adolescent drinking is good news, rates of abstaining from alcohol among older teenagers are still high. Just under one-third of 17-year-olds were classified as non-drinkers compared with 73% of 14-year-olds. However rates of drinking in both age groups have still dropped significantly compared with 2001.
These findings echo recent ABS statistics showing that Australians in general are drinking less alcohol
overall than any time in the previous 15 years.