13th December, 2022 — Protective factors

Tips for parents: Why you shouldn’t give your kids zero-alcohol drinks

Zero-alcohol drinks are becoming more common and are often stocked on supermarket shelves. They are drinks with little or no alcohol content (less than 0.5% alcohol by volume), that mimic the flavour, style and packaging of traditional alcoholic drinks.

They can provide a great alternative for adults who want to cut back on their alcohol intake. But what about for children and teenagers who are still under 18?

As a parent, you might be wondering how to approach this topic. We’ve put together some evidence and tips to help!

How do zero-alcohol drinks affect young people?

For children, their social norms around alcohol use are still developing. We don’t know how these products will influence children - there’s not enough research yet.

But because they taste, smell and look like alcohol, there are concerns that young people who drink them will get used to the taste and get into the habit of drinking.

And we know that the earlier young people begin drinking, the bigger their risk of alcohol-related harms later in life.

What can parents do?

Parents can take action to reduce the possibility of harm by not providing or encouraging people under the age of 18 to consume zero alcohol drinks.

You can also role-model good behaviour to your kids by avoiding drinking zero alcohol beverages in situations where you wouldn’t normally drink alcohol.

Zero-alcohol drinks come in very similar packaging to their alcoholic counterparts. Children can’t tell the difference, so if they see you drinking these at times when you wouldn’t usually drink, they may think this is normal behaviour.

If your club has a bar or provides alcohol at events, it’s a good idea to talk to your committee. Find out about their stance on zero-alcohol products and if they have any guidelines around not providing them to under-18s.

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