Editorial: The kids are all right

A recent survey that shows fewer teens are drinking and using drugs is good news for the future.

It’s hard to say whether the drop in the number of teens using drugs — as well as alcohol and cigarettes — is directly related to the sharp increase in video game use, also reported by the 2017 Connecticut School Health Survey.

But whatever the cause, the decreases in risky behavior are impressive: From 2007 to 2017, the percentage of high school students surveyed who said they smoked cigarettes dropped from one in five to fewer than one in 10. The percentage who said they’d had a drink in the last month dropped from one in two to one in three.

Cigarette smoking and alcohol use can have profound health effects later in life. The decrease shows that young adults are making smarter choices.

Hard drug use is also down, although marijuana use ticked up from 35 percent to 39 percent. With the decriminalization of marijuana laws, that’s not a surprise.

The percentage of teens having sex is also down.

So what are they doing instead?

The increase in video game use and general screen time might suggest that teens’ social lives are moving online. It’s easy for parents to bemoan their teens’ dedication to their online societies, and there’s no doubt that there are risks there, too — bullying, scammers and predators are omnipresent dangers.

Youths have to navigate many minefields on their way to adulthood, but it’s good for everyone that some of the most dangerous behaviors are falling out of vogue.

The Hartford Courant