The internet provides us with instant access to a wealth of information, connects us with more friends than we would have ever accumulated, and enables us to have a voice, where in the past we were silenced. For all the positives the internet and the World Wide Web bring us, there are also some sides to it that need our attention. As parents we need to make sure our children are conversing with real friends and not pretend ones. We need to make sure they are exposed to literature and sites that are not R rated and we need to make sure their online purchases are in line with regulations and laws. An article in the Chicago Tribune last week got us thinking about online alcohol sales to minors and how prevalent it is. The article concludes, “It is hard to stay ahead of tech-savvy teens, and with little regulation, underage internet alcohol sales may continue to rise”. The article referred to a study (Williams & Ribisl, 2012) that found that 45% of the orders placed by underage US buyers were successfully received and half of the vendors had no age verification at the point of sale. It also found that age verification at delivery was inconsistent. In addition a recent study in the UK from Serve Legal and Plymouth University also identifies so-called “proxy-purchasing” as a growing trend, with 42% of underage drinkers claiming to have bought alcohol from friends, relatives or “someone else”. New Serve Legal data contained in the report found that while just 4% of underage consumers would try to buy alcohol at the till in a large supermarket, 74% would attempt to obtain alcohol from parents and 86% from older siblings or friends. Curious about how this compared to processes and restrictions for online alcohol sales to Australian minors, we did a limited search of alcohol sales sites and all of them asked for a date of birth to be entered and referenced legal requirements of selling alcohol for that state.
So how do the retailers know that the person ordering is of legal age?
Grogwatch is interested to know if this is an issue?