Teen drug use linked to late nights at Net cafes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 March, 2010, 12:00am

Social workers advise banning children from internet cafes after midnight, as those who regularly visit them are four times more likely to have taken drugs compared to those who do not, a survey found.

Social workers from the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong surveyed 1,215 pupils in Form One to Form Three on drug use and drugs-related information on the internet between February and December 2009.

Twenty-eight pupils reported having taken drugs - which equates to 2.3 per cent of the sample. However, 18 of them were among the 171 who regularly visit internet cafes. Those who do not go to cafes usually surf the Web at home or at school.

Executive director of the association Lilian Law Suk-kwan said: 'People under 16 years of age can only stay in video games arcades until midnight, but internet cafes can open for 24 hours.' All except one respondent were between 11 to 19 years old.

Although pupils in lower forms visit internet cafes mostly to play online games, social worker Stanley Ho Chun-yu said that those venues were frequented by their older peers who take drugs, or triad members who may influence them.

'Sometimes, parents know that their kids are at the internet cafes as they give them money for it, but they do not realise the risk associated with those places,' social worker Chan Oi-chun said.

The survey found that children who stay up at night to surf the Web are more likely to have taken drugs, compared to those who are online mainly in the daytime. Of the 231 respondents who surf the Web between 11pm and 8am, 21 of them have taken drugs. This accounts for 75 per cent of the 28 people in the entire sample who have taken drugs.