Leisure and fun are part of contemporary society and are accepted as fundamental in social life. Young people need leisure time and fun to achieve complete personal development.
In most societies, however, leisure is linked to alcohol consumption: alcohol is often used to celebrate an event or to separate work time from leisure time. Specifically, in Europe, recreational activities carried out by young people in their leisure time are usually related to alcohol and other psychoactive substances.
In their socialization, young people assimilate from a very early age (adolescence) that alcohol is essential at any party, even forming part of a kind of initiation rite to adolescence.
This trend is dangerous for human development. The preconceived idea that participating in a bottle is part of the individual’s socialization can be established, at a stage in which the group of friends is very important, where relationships are freer and less formalized.
In Spain and many neighboring countries, the recreational and leisure offer is highly alcohol-oriented and, furthermore, coexists with a generalized social permissiveness. Alcohol, considered a legal drug, is socially accepted and is part of many social and family celebrations.
Such covert permissiveness has greatly influenced consumption patterns. It has gone from a moderate daily consumption associated with meals, to a more intermittent consumption among young people, related to leisure time and the weekend, which usually ends in drunkenness.
Why some yes and others no?
To the extent that there are some young people who do not participate in these activities, it is essential to analyze the differences that exist between them and those who do participate.
What factors can we identify early on that can be protective and serve to prevent or deflect such behavior in the earliest stages?
From the perspective of social marketing , we have carried out an investigation to establish what differences exist between young people who practice “botellón” and those who do not. We consider three variables:
- Leisure habits.
- Emotions and beliefs.
Everyone wants to have fun
Based on the empirical results we have obtained, it can be said that young people, whether or not they practice drinking, coincide in the way they spend their leisure time.
To have fun, everyone likes to carry out activities with friends and in a group, through the computer (social networks, chats, online games) or personally (eat lunch or dinner with friends or meet friends at home or on the street).
An intervention or prevention campaign should not focus on criminalizing leisure activities carried out with friends on the street, but the campaigns should be aimed at modifying or modeling the emotions, values and beliefs of the young people who participate in the bottle.
The importance of disconnection
Leisure involves relaxing, but for the young people who do a bottle it also implies a form of disconnection. The sole objective is that. This is what differentiates them from those who do not make a bottle.
For this reason, when designing campaigns, other types of non-harmful leisure activities must be shown that maintain the objective of disconnecting or relaxing, without this meaning alienating oneself or implying an action that is harmful to health.
We need to offer leisure activities with a contribution to personal growth and improvement, such as concerts or group sports. Activities that, offering relaxation and fun, can serve as an alternative to harmful leisure habits.
Hedonistic and invulnerable
Both groups of young people, those who do and those who do not drink, are hedonists. One of the highest values for them is to enjoy life. Those who practice bottle, however, value less responsibility.
Social marketing campaigns should promote, from a very early age, values associated with responsibility. Emphasis should be placed on the satisfaction experienced when achieving a goal that has been achieved with effort.
Responsibility can be promoted through ecological or environmental responsibility, offering group altruistic leisure activities where they can have fun, for example, protecting the environment by cleaning natural spaces.
It is surprising that both groups of young people know that practicing a bottle is “harmful to their health.” They may not value their reach because their youth makes them feel invulnerable. In order to achieve a change in this belief, the true damage that alcohol can cause must be disseminated, showing its damage to health at an early age: cancers of the head, neck, liver, colorectal and breast, as well as gastrointestinal and mental health.
Finally, taking into account the emotions generated by the bottle, social marketing should be aimed at changing them. Young people who practice bottle link it to joy and happiness. This relationship is rooted in our culture: if you want to achieve a change in young people, you have to start with adults and their way of seeing alcohol.
Author Bios: Immaculate Galvan Sanchez is Doctor from the ULPGC in the field of Business Organization and researcher in Social Economy, Asuncion Beerli Palace and Josefa D. Martin Santana al at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria