Parents of teens have, for many years, been in the complicated position of making sure that their child is protected from both the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse and the dangers of the internet and social networking.
Unfortunately, recent advances in both alcohol sales and social media have proven to be a new way that teens may be at risk for finding and abusing dangerous alcoholic drinks.
Selling Alcohol On Instagram
Alcohol is in fact being sold on the popular social media site Instagram, which many teens use to communicate with one another when they do not want their parents to monitor their activity. While many parents may be on Facebook and thus have access to the information that their children share on Facebook, Instagram is not as popular with older adults and it may be easier for teens to share information, especially by using aliases.
Teens are buying alcohol on Instagram via private accounts which require permission to be followed. The alcoholic drinks sold on these private sites are not licensed or legal types of alcohol, and they go by names such as “Phrosties” or “Nutcrackers.” These drinks are very strong and generally come pre-mixed and in small doses. The drinks are ordered by users and then either delivered to their doors or the Instagram vendors seer up a meeting place with users.
The Dangers of Under the Table Alcohol Vending
The types of drinks being sold on Instagram are cause for concern for many parents for a number of reasons. The fact that the drinks are not regulated means that they have a much higher alcohol content than other types of drinks that may be available for purchase.
The person who is selling them often makes themselves intentionally hard to track, meaning that they may not really be held responsible for the consequences of their actions if a person who is using the drinks becomes ill or overdoses on the highly potent drinks. Many of the popular Instagram drinks also come in flavors that may be particularly appealing to young people: very sweet flavors and drinks that are essentially alcoholic slushy drinks.
Because the alcohol content can vary from drink to drink, it may be impossible for one to know exactly what they are getting with each drink and a teen who is not experienced with drinking or who is drawn to the drink’s sweet taste may drink too much and be at a higher risk of overdosing from them.
Possible Legal Ramifications For Instagram Vendors
While the drinks seem to be growing in popularity, and even given some publicity by music recording artists like Pit Bull, who recently featured Nutcracker drinks in his Youtube video, law enforcement agents have reminded vendors that it is illegal to make and sell alcohol that is unregulated and unlicensed, and it is certainly illegal to sell such products to minors.
Because the drinks are being sold online, many local government agencies believe the sales of such drinks may in fact be a federal crime, and one that the FBI could wind up prosecuting. Many local law enforcement agencies in cities where the drinks and their sale have grown in popularity have vowed to do what they can to spot and track the sales and to help stop the continued sale of what seems like it may be a very dangerous way of consuming alcohol.
Parents are also advised to keep an eye on their child’s behavior online and to be aware of which social networking sites their child is actively using. Many parents may regularly check in with their child’s activity on their phones.