Building on our previous college binge drinking research, The Century Council conducted follow-up research among two of the college drinker types we identified last year. These students’ unique perspective will help address the issue of dangerous overconsumption on college campuses. The research explored the drinking behaviors of “Malleable Moderates” and “Savvy Sippers” as well as their social networks and how they impact drinking behaviors and attitudes.
For clarity’s sake, our definition of “social networks” means trusted groups of friends such as college friends, high school friends, etc. and not “social networks” as defined by online sites such as Facebook. Recently the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released a report regarding the impact of social networking sites on a teen’s decision to drink, smoke, and use drugs. Perhaps the assumption that images seen on social networking sites encourage poor decision making should be questioned. We think the better course of action is to focus on addressing the behavioral changes, not blame the mechanism by which photos and videos are shared.
Highlights from the as yet unreleased findings confirmed that half of college students begin their weekends on Thursday. Going out to dinner, going to bars, going to parties, and just drinking alcohol are the primary weekend activities (Thursday, Friday and Saturday); these plans are not premeditated but rather made day of and easily changed. Students are, however, more likely to make decisions about how much they plan to drink before going out, and do so on their own rather than with their group.
There is good news for parents who might have just dropped off their college son or daughter: they’re still studying (usually between Sunday and Wednesday,) passing exams, and getting good grades. Completing papers and projects are considered very important goals in their typical week.
When it comes to socializing, students are making their connections prior to arriving on campus or early in their college careers. They identify their key and closest social groups as friends from their:
- Place of residence (52%);
- Significant others (40%);
- Hometown (29%).
Not surprisingly, groups with whom the students feel closest to and with whom they are most likely to socialize are also the groups they drink with most often. A majority of students report their drinking behavior does not really change from group to group, but a plurality do report they sometimes drink more when they are with certain friends.
We look forward to sharing the full results later this fall. In the meantime, be sure to check out all the exciting student-generated work going on at college campus to reduce overconsumption.
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