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Iceland Mag

Culture

Study: Icelandic teenagers spend more time with parents, consume less alcohol, drugs

By Staff

  • Healthy and happy with life Icelandic teens spend more time at home with parents and in organized extracurricular activities, smoke less and drink less than previously. Photo/Sara.

New research published by the Ministry of Welfare shows Icelandic teenagers live healthier lives than a decade ago. The study, which looked at the daily lives of teenagers aged 14-15 shows teens spend vastly more time with their parents today, smoke less, consume less alcohol and do less drugs than the same age cohort did in 2006. These changes can largely be chalked up to social media and computers, a sociologist argues.

Icelandic teenagers spend their weekends with parents
The study shows a dramatic change in how teenagers spend their time. Among other things it shows nearly doubling in the proportion of teenagers who choose to spend time with their parents. In 2014 63% of teenagers said they often or almost always spent their weekends at home with parents, compared to only 37% in 2006.

Read more: Icelanders more pleased with life than most nations

A similar change can be seen in teens’ contact to parents during the week. In 2006 only a third of teens said they were always in contact with their parents after school on weekdays, compared to more than half in 2014. Teens are also more likely to be enrolled in organized afterschool activities and sports.

Less smoking, drinking, drugs: Thank Facebook
The drop in alcohol, tobacco and cannabis consumption was similarly striking. In 2006 12% of 15 year olds had smoked, compared to only 2.5% in 2015. While 26% of 15 year olds reported to have consumed one drink of alcohol or more in the past 30 days in 2006 only 4.6% did so in 2015. Cannabis use had similarly almost been eliminated among teenagers. In 2006 9% of 15 year olds reported they had at some time smoked cannabis, compared to only 3.3% in 2015.

Read more: Iceland holds the world record in Internet use: 98% of Icelanders are online

A sociologist at the University of Iceland told the local newspaper Stundin that the reason for this dramatic turnaround could be sought, at least partially, in increasing use of social media. Professor Helgi Gunnlaugsson said that today parents can more easily keep in touch with their children and teens and keep tabs on their activities through social media, while the children are not at home. At the same time teens can stay in touch with friends from home, which reduces boredom. He also pointed out children are allowed to remain children for longer today than only a few decades ago.

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