It’s that time of the year again that comes every four years when the European School Survey on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) study is released, sending shockwaves through parentsphere. The stats based on the responses of 96,000 school students in 35 countries aren’t all that bad – really – there’s even a plus side that shows that teenage smoking and drinking are slowly on the decline across Europe. On the downside, however, there are new concerns about the dangers of excessive screen time and new psychoactive drugs that are on the rise.
In Greece, the data was gathered from the responses of 3,202 students, aged from 15-16 years, from 175 senior high schools. Below are the findings that show mixed results:
1. No need to look for stashes of pot in your teenager’s room. For one of the eight key variables the Greek results were clearly below the ESPAD average, namely lifetime use of cannabis, which was reported by 9 percent of the Greek students, compared to the overall European average of 16 percent.
2. Greek teens want drugs as much as the average European kid. Greek results were similar to the overall results for lifetime use of illicit drugs other than cannabis, such as tranquillisers or sedatives without prescription and NPS.
3. Greek teens smoke less, but start younger, and enjoy sniffing too. Teenage cigarette use in the last 30 days was also more or less in line with the ESPAD average. By contrast, lifetime use of inhalants was more common among the Greek students.
4. They consume copious amounts of alcohol and binge drink too. Close to three quarters of the Greek students reported that alcohol use had occurred during the last 30 days, which was well above the average for all countries (48 percent). Greeks had a higher-than-average score for binge drinking.
5. Online use is on the rise. Teenagers across Europe use the internet on average 5.8 days a week and girls (83 percent) use social media more regularly than boys (73 percent). Online gaming is more prevalent among boys (39 percent) than girls (7 percent). In Greece, internet use is near the EU average. Greek kids prefer to use the internet to download materials (movies, applications etc) rather than play online games or make e-purchases.
6. Greek teens are gamblers. The study showed that 23 percent of teenage boys across all of the 35 EU countries gambled online for money in the past year, compared to 5 percent of girls. The Greek figures were double the average, with more teenagers having gambled in the last year. Along with Greece, Croatians, Cypriots, the Finnish and Slovenians were also big gamblers. The report found that as many as one in eight teenage boys (12 percent) report gambling frequently in Europe
“Measures to prevent adolescents from developing problems associated with gambling, such as debts, psychological deficits and social disadvantages, are of high priority,” say the authors of the Espad survey report.