What is it about?

This study explored the links between adolescent siblings' alcohol use from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns in Spring 2020. We tested whether patterns of sibling influence would be stronger during the pandemic shutdowns, given that access to friends and peers were more limited. Consistent with expectations, siblings’ pre-pandemic alcohol use was uniquely predictive of youths’ alcohol use during the COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns. For older siblings, this link was apparent when they reported greater stress about social disruptions (e.g., changes in social contacts as well as missed events like graduation and prom).

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Why is it important?

Siblings are often overlooked sources of social influence during childhood and adolescence. The present findings highlight that siblings may have especially heightened impact during periods when adolescents are more isolated from social networks, such as during family vacations, stressors (e.g., moves, divorce), and natural or medical disasters such as the recent pandemic-related shutdowns. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has endured multiple years, sibling influences may remain pronounced throughout, and it is critical that researchers and clinicians consider how brothers and sisters shape each other’s health-risk and other behaviors during childhood and adolescence.


I hope this article brings greater attention to the role that siblings play in shaping the health and adjustment of youth during adolescence.

Shawn Whiteman
Utah State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Sibling influences on adolescent alcohol use during the spring 2020 COVID-19 pandemic shutdown., Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, May 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/adb0000841.
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