I was always searching [the
Internet] for new ways to get high," said
Sean, age 17, a teen in treatment at Pathway
Family Center in Indianapolis. "My friends and
I ordered 'legal marijuana,' which was
terrible. I found out how to grow marijuana,
how to make it more potent, how to crush
pills. I linked my IM [instant messenger] to
my favorite drug sites so that my friends
could find them, too. When my parents wanted
to drug test me, I found out online how to
detox so I could get around the tests and show
Amy, age 17, also at
Pathway in Indianapolis, said other
technologies helped support her drug habit.
"My cell phone was the most important tool for
me to get drugs. I kept all of my drug
dealers' names in my phone book on my cell
phone and would sometimes put them under other
names so nobody could find out," she said.
Research shows that
teens are frequently online unsupervised and
often engage in risky behaviors. The Pew
Internet and American Life Project reported in
2005 that 64 percent of online teens say that
most teens do things on the Internet that they
wouldn't want their parents to know about. And
nearly half (48%) of 16- to 17-year-olds
report that their parents or guardians know
"very little" or "nothing" about what they do
on the Internet, according to a 2006 survey
conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU)
for the National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children and Cox Communications.
"The pusher has moved to
the PC. With one click of the mouse, teens can
enter a virtual world of drugs," said John P.
Walters, Director of National Drug Control
Policy. "The Internet can teach teens how to
buy or make drugs, how to use different drugs
and other products to get high, and how to
beat drug tests."
A noted teen expert,
Peter Zollo of Teenage Research Unlimited,
stressed that teens are using technology all
the time, everywhere. "Almost 90 percent of
12- to 17-year-olds use the Internet; half of
them use it daily. About 19 million teens
instant message, and 60 percent of teens have
their own cell phone."
Teens don't have to be
looking for pro-drug information to be at
risk. Bogus pharmacies also flood e-mail
inboxes with spam pushing prescription drugs.
"Drug dealers lurk in chat rooms just like
pedophiles, targeting teens with offers of
drugs," Walters said. "To protect your teens
in the digital world, go where they go. Do not
let new technologies and innovations get in
the way of good parenting."
Walters identified three
actions parents can take to help keep their
1. Learn about the digital devices your teen uses. Visit their Web pages
or blogs and know who is in their cell phone contact list.
2. Limit the time your teen spends online, put computers in a common area
of the house to more easily monitor their use.
3. Set limits on which Web sites, chat rooms, games, or blogs they can
and cannot visit, and discuss consequences for breaking these rules.
The Office of National
Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is publishing an
Open Letter to Parents this week in the top 27
media markets in national and local
newspapers, and in select magazines, which
focuses on the ways in which technology can
aid- teen drug use and outlines how parents
can monitor teens' digital activities. Seven
health, parenting, and media education
organizations signed the letter, including:
American Academy of Pediatrics; Cable in the
Classroom; i-SAFE, Inc.; National Institute on
Media and the Family; Partnership for a
Drug-Free America; PTA; and Web Wise Kids.
Parents can visit
http://www.TheAntiDrug.com for additional
advice and information. The site features a
complete, easy-to-understand tutorial about
technology in teens' lives, tips on decoding
teens' lingo online, as well as specific tools
parents can use to monitor their teen's use of
Since its inception in
1998, the ONDCP's National Youth Anti-Drug
Media Campaign has conducted outreach to
millions of parents and teens and hundreds of
communities to prevent and reduce teen drug
use. Counting on an unprecedented blend of
public and private partnerships, non-profit
community service organizations, volunteerism
and youth-to-youth communications, the
Campaign is designed to reach Americans of
diverse backgrounds with effective anti-drug
For more information on
the ONDCP National Youth Anti-Drug Media
For access to an audio
recording of the teen panelist's stories,
please contact Jessica Stone at
email@example.com, or 202-828-8808.