How Teens Buy Alcohol Online: A Warning for Parents
It feels like things used to be so simple. It wasn’t that
long ago when a parent’s biggest worries about underage drinking came from the
idea of a fake ID or their child getting alcohol from other friends or parents.
Now that the internet has made online shopping the norm, many teens are going
online to purchase alcohol underage.
At first, the idea of policing the internet for alcohol sales may seem like an insurmountable task. The truth is that parents will play a crucial role in curtailing underage alcohol sales online. Here’s what parents need to know about how teens can buy alcohol online, and what they can do about it.
Sites Like eBay Gave Teens Easy Access to Alcohol
The idea of teens going online to purchase alcohol underage
is hardly anything new. It’s been happening for a long time, and it’s only in
the last decade or so that people have started to take notice of the alarming
study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill tested
to see if eight people between the ages of 18 and 20 could purchase alcohol
online while underage. The study found that 45 percent of attempts to purchase alcohol
online underage were successful. While things have gotten a bit more difficult in
the years since, the idea of purchasing alcohol online remains a major concern
for parents across the country.
Following the UNC-Chapel Hill study and a highly
publicized “20/20” report on how teens were using that platform to get
around the system, the online auction site began removing alcohol listings. There
are now much stricter rules for those looking to sell alcohol on the site.
These restrictions include an approval process to become a
licensed seller of wine in addition to requiring an alcohol license. Even then,
eBay alcohol sales are largely relegated to collectible wines, and the company
policy is to not allow for the listing of alcohol to ensure it is following
the statutes of individual states.
Purchasing Alcohol Online in North Carolina is Illegal
It is illegal to purchase alcohol online in North Carolina
without a wholesaler’s permit. That means that the only people who can (or at
least should) be able to purchase alcohol online are restaurants and businesses
that sell alcohol to restaurants or other retail outlets.
In fact, many online sites will not even allow the purchase of alcohol for addresses in North Carolina. However, teenagers are resourceful and find other ways to buy booze online.
Teens are Finding New Ways to Purchase Alcohol Online
Of course, just as parents and governments closed one
loophole, teens swiftly began finding other options. Now, underage teens are looking
to other sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to purchase alcohol. The
straightforward transaction process, combined with a lack of regulation and
oversight, can make an already fraught situation even more dangerous,
especially if it involves meeting with a stranger.
Thankfully, many states are already taking steps to further curtail online alcohol sales and keep our kids safe. The Attorneys General of 46 different states signed a letter calling for vendors to take a stronger stance by preventing underage children from using their platforms to purchase alcohol.
Talk to Your Teen About the Dangers of Underage Drinking
Ultimately, parental vigilance is the best weapon in the
fight against underage drinking. By taking the time to start the
conversation about underage drinking, parents can keep their children
informed about the risks and dangers associated with purchasing alcohol online.
Take the pledge today and
commit with your child to stop underage drinking.