Remember when everyone was freaking out about the “new trend” of teens drinking hand sanitizer, which is not even remotely new? Those were fun times–but, it turns out, there’s something way worse to be worried about: Teens buying alcohol online and having it delivered to them. But then, you probably could have asked any teen and they would have told you that duh, ordering booze over the internet is no sweat.
According to a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, it’s ridiculously easy for minors to order beer, wine, and liquor online and have it delivered to them, without so much as an ID check. Out of 100 attempts, 45 ended with a minor in possession of some form of booze–and many of the failed attempts were due to the fact that some states are very strict about shipping and receiving liquor across state lines.
Before you get panicky and start locking down the family laptop, consider, as Reuters points out, the one piece of critical information missing:
The study did not show how often underage buyers actually purchase alcohol online in real-world settings.
Yeah. So, actually, we don’t know how often this really happens–just that it could, ostensibly, happen very easily if you live in a state with lax shipping laws. However, I can tell you that, as a young person who once engaged in my fair share of risky (read: liquor-fueled) behavior, it’s definitely not unheard of, particularly among older minors, between the ages of 19 and 20.
Much like the hand sanitizer “trend,” this isn’t exactly a new thing. Lawmakers have been trying to crack down on this behavior since it first became clear that there could potentially be a problem. Here’s a 2006 article about the problem, and here’s a 2007 report from the University of Washington addressing the problem.
However, unlike the hand sanitizer scare, ordering liquor online is actually (at least anecdotally) a common occurrence (and not just a shock-story for cable news), and one that many teens are well aware of. It also has a clear solution for at least cutting down on the frequency of successful purchases: Require FedEx and other private shipping companies to ask for ID upon delivery. Or, you know, talk to your kid about the dangers of drinking and ensure that they don’t have access to a credit card that you don’t monitor.
Image: auremar via Shutterstock