Through a combination of online survey and interviews with parents two independent evaluators looked at parents’ experiences with and views on the Drinkaware resources for parents, offering guidance on how to talk to children about alcohol.
The Drinkaware resources which are part of the ‘Talk’ campaign aim to: reinforce parents’ behaviour of having proactive, regular and well informed conversations with their children about alcohol before the child is 13; and improve the quality of conversations that parents are having with their children about the risks associated with alcohol.
The evaluation was informed by a ‘pop-up’ survey (n=248) on the Drinkaware website and telephone interviews with 20 parents/carers.
- Almost three in four parents had already spoken to their children about the potential risks association with alcohol. Of these, almost two in three had done so on at least four occasions.
- Most parents felt confident talking to their children about alcohol. But they were anxious about striking the right balance between being open and not normalising it to such an extent their children became ambivalent to the potential risks associated with drinking.
"I'm happy talking to her about more or less anything. It's more that I don't know a lot of the facts and the information about it that undermines your confidence in the minute." (Mother)
- Most of the parents interviewed had accessed the Drinkaware website because they were concerned about their own or another family member’s drinking, not because they were seeking advice about children and alcohol.
- The majority of parents surveyed agreed /strongly agreed with the statement ‘I have learnt something new about alcohol’. Interviewees described the website as user friendly, interesting and easy to navigate, and stated it had given them answers to questions that they had found it difficult to deal with.
“I felt I got what I needed and, as I say, I explored a little bit more than I intended to when I started because it was interesting and easy to navigate.” (Father)
- Information about the effect of alcohol on a child’s developing body was considered the most useful content.
- Some of the interviewees criticised the website as too text-heavy and as not accessible for those for whom English is not a first language; and the advice as too ‘middle class’ or elitist in its tone.
“The information is great. I definitely cannot fault what it's saying it's just the way it's presented” (Mother)
- Parents suggested that the website needs to include more material aimed at children themselves, such as ‘real life’ video clips from young people to explain the negative consequences of underage drinking - rather than just ‘expert’ advice aimed at adults.
- Parents need guidance about how to negotiate and agree a consistent approach towards children’s exposure to alcohol with partners, other family members or adult friends who have different attitudes or practices, and how to resist peer pressure from other adults.
The evidence of this evaluation is that the Talk Campaign has been very well received. Feedback from the research participants about the Campaign is used to identify a set of recommendations to improve its reach and effectiveness.