Education

US teenagers not doing drugs, smoking, drinking, having sex as much as in past

Posted June 22

A new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on risky youth behaviors suggests that fewer U.S. teenagers are drinking, smoking, abusing drugs and having sex than before. (Deseret Photo)

According to a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on risky youth behaviors, from 2014 to 2016 fewer U.S. teenagers are drinking, smoking, abusing drugs and having sex.

The survey, conducted every two years, polled 16,000 American students ages 12 and up from 125 schools across the country from September 2014 to December 2015. Responses were anonymous, required parental permission and were compared with responses from all previous surveys.

The survey found 41 percent of teenagers said they had ever had sex compared with 47 percent in the previous decade β€” a steady decline since the survey started in 1991. The survey also found the numbers of teenagers who said they had sex recently, before they were 13 or with four or more partners had declined since 1991. Teenagers are now more likely to use some form of contraception, with an increase of 15 percent from 2011.

According to the survey, the number of teenagers playing video or computer games three or more hours on the average school day has doubled since 2003, rising to 42 percent.

The decrease of sex and increase of use of video or computer games among teenagers may be a possible link to help explain the recent reports of declining teen pregnancies and abortions.

"National surveys have seen a leveling off in recent years in the proportion of kids who said they had sex, after earlier declines," according to Time's recent report of the survey. "That led researchers to largely attribute continuing declines in teen pregnancies and abortions to more and better use of birth control. But the new numbers suggest less sex is a factor, too."

Teen Vogue noted that while teenagers may be lectured by their parents for staring at a screen too much, "it’s probably not as dangerous as the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll lifestyle your parents might have led when they were your age."

The survey also found that the number of students smoking cigarettes had declined to 11 percent, but 24 percent of students were reported saying they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. "This remains an area of concern for the CDC because most contain nicotine, which causes addiction, could harm brain development, and could lead to continued tobacco product use," according to Business Insider.

According to the survey, one-third of the students surveyed had at least one alcoholic drink within the 30 days prior to the survey β€” a dramatic decrease from 45 percent in 2007. Seventeen percent were reported to have taken drugs without a prescription and 22 percent said they had used marijuana in the last month β€” a bit lower than previous surveys.

Email: mmcnulty@deseretnews.com

Twitter: megchristine5

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