Perceived anonymity and alcohol use by high school and college students
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Perceived anonymity, or beliefs about how much parents and peers know and care about students’ behavior, was assessed in relation to their drinking patterns. Prior to and after leaving for college, students completed web-based surveys assessing alcohol use, family and social motives, and perceived anonymity from parents and peers. Family motives moderated the effect of perceived parental anonymity on high school alcohol use, whereas peer motives moderated the effect of perceived peer anonymity on college drinking. Longitudinally, college drinking increased as individuals moved from low perceived anonymity in high school to high perceived anonymity in college. Perceived anonymity is a possible mechanism through which parents exert influence during high school whereas peers are more influential in college.