To investigate the relation between Internet use and binge drinking during early and middle adolescence.
This is a cross-sectional study of a sub-sample of 8th and 10th graders from the Monitoring the Future (MtF) study, which annually surveys a nationally representative sample of U.S. youth on their attitudes, behaviors, and values. This study includes data from 21,170 8th and 24,362 10th graders who participated between 2007 and 2012 and were asked questions about Internet use and binge drinking.
In fully adjusted models, we found a dose response relation between hours of recreational Internet use (i.e. outside work or school) and binge drinking which was stronger for 8th than 10th graders. Compared to < 1 h of Internet use per week, odds ratios estimates for 1–5 h/week, 6–19 h/week, and 20 or more h/week were 1.24 (99% CI: 0.85, 1.82), 1.83 (1.28, 2.61), and 2.78 (1.99, 3.87) for 8th graders, respectively. For 10th graders, this same association was attenuated [estimated OR = 1.06 (99% CI: 0.96, 1.16); 1.20 (1.03, 1.40); and 1.30 (1.07, 1.58), respectively].
Drawing on a nationally representative sample of U.S. youth, we find a significant, dose–response relation between Internet use and binge drinking. This relation was stronger in 8th graders versus 10th graders. Given that alcohol is the most abused substance among adolescents and binge drinking confers many health risks, longitudinal studies designed to examine the mediators of this relation are necessary to inform binge drinking prevention strategies, which may have greater impact if targeted at younger adolescents.