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New study reveal young Brits consider binge drinking acceptable

A new research that looked into the level of alcohol consumption of young people in Britain found that planned drunkenness and binge drinking are considered social norms by members of the age group under study.

Professor Christina Griffin of the University of Bath in England and her team from various academic institutions found that majority of young adults in Britain perceive binge drinking as a cool and socially acceptable activity or pastime. This was the result of their three year research which involved interviewing 89 young adults from three regions in the United Kingdom.

The researchers explained that the key factors that influenced such view are the representation of extreme drinking as a fun leisure activity, the media’s persistent coverage of celebrities in various state of drunkenness, and the presence of advertising materials that build on the “coolness” of binge drinking.

The association between fun and alcohol is further strengthened, the researchers explained, by the current popularity of social networking websites with multimedia functions that a lot of young people used for sharing images of their drunken night outs with friends and other Internet users.

In answer to these findings, Professor Griffin suggested that the practice of making generalizations about young adults and their drinking habits should be stopped. “We also need to listen and incorporate their views and perspectives,” she said.

In accordance, her colleague Professor Isabelle Szmigin of the University of Birmingham noted that while most young adults recognize the bad effects of extreme drinking and its consequent risks of physical or sexual assaults, very few of them regard these as more than ordinary “short term problems”.

Professor Chris Hackley of the Royal Holloway University of London said that the findings of their study suggest the need for a radical reconsideration of the national policies regarding alcohol use and consumption. According to him, the re-thinking of the said policy should take into account the identity implications of alcohol use for young people as well as its total social character.

This study, which brought together researchers from various three UK universities was part of the “Branded Consumption and Social Identification, Young People and Alcohol” project and was funded in large by UK’s The Economic and Social Research Council.

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