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The majority of Brits have bought booze while below the age limit

Being a teenager is an awkward time. It represents a period over which we develop the physical and mental ability to function as an adult, but not the legal capacity to do so.

Now new YouGov Omnibus research reveals how many Britons railed against the rules when they were younger and managed to carry out certain activities that they were legally too young for.

(Please note, questions on movies and video games with an 18 age rating were not asked to those who would have been older than 18 when the age rating system was first introduced.)

The most commonly committed underage activity is watching an 18-rated movie at home or at a friend’s house. Almost eight in ten Brits old enough to have been affected by the age rating system (79%) have done this – more than twice as many who have ever blagged their way into a cinema to watch an 18-rated movie (37%).

In a similar vein, almost half of Brits old enough to have been affected by the age rating system (47%) have played an 18-rated video game while underage, while 27% have bought one while underage.

Unsurprisingly, given that video game playing has become more mainstream over time, there are big generational differences with younger people more likely to have done played or purchased while underage. About two thirds of millennials (i.e. 65% of Brits aged 18-34) have played an 18-rated video game while underage, and a third (35%) managed to find a way to buy one.

Most Brits have blagged booze while underage

The majority of Brits (54%) have also found a way to purchase alcohol while underage, with men more likely to have done so than women (61%, compared to 47%).

The youngest Brits are much less likely to have managed to buy booze while underage than their elders: only 38% of 18-24 year olds were able to blag a beer, compared to 57% of 25-34 year olds and 66% of 35-44 year olds.

Younger Brits are similarly less likely to have bought cigarettes while underage, at 20% of 18-24 year olds compared to 36% of 25-34 year olds and 45% of 35-44 year olds.

It is likely that these generational differences are influenced by a combination of increased enforcement by retailers and the government, and the fact that younger Brits are also less likely to drink and smoke than ever before.

Fewer Brits are likely to have engaged in another form of vice – gambling – while underage. Only 13% of Brits have gambled while underage, with men more likely to have done so than women (17% vs 9%).

Finally, a quarter of Brits (25%) say they have had sex while underage. While many, particularly in the media, often worry about the sexual antics of younger generations, the 30% of 18-24 year old Brits who have had sex while underage is essentially the same as their peers aged 25-54 (before dropping to 18% among those aged 55 or older).

Photo: Getty

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