U.S. official says online drug videos threaten teens

Tue Oct 7, 2008 5:55am EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The director of the White House war on drugs said on Monday that Internet videos that show people getting high pose a dangerous threat to teenagers by encouraging them to use drugs and alcohol.

John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, spoke as his office released a study about drug-related videos on popular sites such as MySpace. He said in a Reuters interview that parents need to monitor their teens' online activities.

The study, which was conducted in June, found that 5 percent of teens using the Internet saw at least one drug-related video that month. More than a third of the teens were under 16.

Walters said the often amateurish videos, posted by Internet users on video-sharing pages and social networking sites, play up everything from cocaine use to smoking marijuana with a device called a bong.

"Parents would be horrified to think that people are sneaking into their house to encourage their kids to build a bong or to chug on beer at age 13," Walters said.

"The fact is those people are sneaking into your house through your Internet connection on your computer," he said.

Walters said while the number of teens in the study who viewed drug-related videos was limited to 5 percent, he suspects the number of teens exposed to that content over the course of a year is higher.

DRUG EXPOSURE   Continued...

<p>U.S. Drug Czar John Walters in a file photo. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky/Handout</p>