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Teen users of Facebook, Myspace more likely to drink, use drugs

By jon-q, Aug 24, 2011 | | |
  1. jon-q
    View attachment 22109 The eternal struggle to keep young people away from bad influences has moved to a new frontier:

    A research organization said Wednesday that teens who regularly log on to Facebook and other social networks are considerably more likely to smoke, drink or use marijuana than teens who don't visit the sites.

    The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York found that teens who spend time on the social networks are likely to see images of their peers drinking or using drugs — images that could help to convince them that substance abuse is a normal, acceptable activity.

    "We're not saying (social media) causes it," said Joseph Califano, the center's chairman. "But we are saying that this is a characteristic that should signal to (parents) that, well, you ought to be watching."

    The findings are in keeping with a new wave of research into how social networks might affect teen decision-making. Several studies have suggested that Facebook, Myspace and other sites have created a new form of peer pressure, exposing young people to risky behaviors they could be tempted to emulate.

    That conclusion rings true to some teens and parents.

    "The Internet puts it in your head," said Dana Cichon, 16, a junior at Bartlett High School. "You think everyone else is having more fun than you."

    But some experts warn that the research, like social media itself, is still in its infancy, and that the correlation between social networking and teen substance abuse could be disguising more relevant risk factors. Others contend that bad influences in the real world are much more potent.

    What many experts agree on, though, is the importance of parents keeping tabs on their children's Internet activities.

    "We've always had to be involved in kids' lives," Dave Gomel, of Rockford's Rosecrance addiction treatment center. "This is just a different (method)."

    The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse does an annual survey to track teens' attitudes on drinking, smoking and drug abuse, and this year it added questions about social media. It found that, compared to young people who avoid the sites, teens who regularly visit them are twice as likely to use marijuana, three times more likely to drink alcohol and five times more likely to use tobacco.

    The survey also found that about half of those who use social media have seen online pictures of teens getting drunk or high or passed out, Califano said. Many saw the images before age 14.

    "I think there's no question there's a relation there," he said.

    Other research has also suggested a link between social media and teen substance abuse. Dana Litt, a psychologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, did an experiment last year where she showed teens Facebook profiles that depicted adolescents drinking.

    "I found that even in a fairly brief exposure … individuals who saw these alcohol images said they were more willing to get drunk in the future and thought the type of person who got drunk was more favorable," she said.

    While she cautioned that more research is needed — something other than social media could turn out to be the true risk factor — she said the sites might indeed have an outsize influence on what teens think is normal.

    "Instead of simply knowing what your best friends do, you can see what your 500 Facebook friends do," she said. "I think that it might possibly change their ideas of how common behavior is."

    Michael DeGrace, 17, a senior at York High School in Elmhurst, said he regularly sees Facebook posts about drinking and partying. And it's not just images, he added: Status updates that say things like, "I can't remember what happened last night" get the message across as clearly as any photograph.

    He said that sort of content could influence teens, especially younger ones.

    "When someone constantly sees photos of parties, they sort of feel they're missing out," he said. "It sort of glorifies the whole thing. Especially if you haven't done it before, it could be a gateway to make them think it's all right."

    Faraz Akram, 18, of Elgin, opened a Facebook account at his girlfriend's insistence but rarely uses it. He, too, believes that teens on social networks could be more easily swayed to use drugs and alcohol.

    "If you do use Facebook, you care about what people think," said Akram, who will soon head to boot camp with the U.S. Marine Corps. "If you care what people think, you want to do what they do."

    But Seth Gibson, 17, a senior at Hoffman Estates High School, was skeptical. He said peer pressure is greater in person and when teens have the immediate opportunity to smoke or drink.

    "If you're not easily influenced, you're not going to do it," he said. "A picture on Facebook isn't going to force anyone to do anything."

    Myspace did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesman for Facebook said the site removes content that promotes illegal drug use when its reviewers become aware of it. The company also referred to the work of Mike Males, a researcher at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco who is unconvinced of the link between social media and teen substance abuse.

    Males said the research hasn't sufficiently controlled for other factors that could prove far more decisive, such as a parent's use of drugs or alcohol.

    "I'm not discounting that media may play a part … but you have to assess how important a factor that is when teenagers see drunken people in their real lives," Males told the Tribune. "That's something the studies don't address."

    Ray Schellenberger, of Lombard, a high school counselor and parent of two teens, said he required them to "friend" him when they joined Facebook, allowing him to keep an eye on what they post. Still, he's not sure that the power of social media is greater than peer pressure that arrives the old-fashioned way.

    "If you're sitting at a cafeteria table and talking about what you did over the weekend, that's just as influential as what you're seeing on Facebook," he said.

    John Keilman and Robert McCoppin
    Chicago Tribune 24th Aug 2011


  1. coolhandluke
    when i was in high school social media was just catching on. i didn't get a facebook page until i was 20 or so, but in high school all the freshman were hearing about the huge parties the upperclass man threw and the drinking, ect. this being on facebook is the exact same as people gossiping in school about who fucked who and who smokes weed, ect. its nothing new, just in a different form of the peer pressure, a more passive one i would say too.

    teenagers who are on facebook vs one who aren't, i wonder how many teens in a urban area out of 100 are on facebook. the only people i know who are not on it are either big drug dealers. or people who think they are too cool and facebook is to mainstream and below them, and also they tend to use lots of drugs themselves.
  2. Ellisdeee
    And for my generation that didn't have Facebook and Myspace though middle school and all of HS (myspace started catching on near my junior year I think), they said it was the music we listened to that made us prone to use drugs. They said it was rap/hip-hop music and the movies that encouraged it. But for almost every generation are kids really introduced to pot and alcohol at vastly different stages? I went to a private middle school, but public high school. Me and my friends mostly all tried/got into pot and such when we were freshmen or sophomores. Entering high school some people got into it in late middle school. By Senior year almost everyone has been around pot and had the chance to try it and either taken it or passed on it.

    It's human nature and word of mouth that keeps mind altering substances popular. No matter what the influence the exposure to these things *generally* happen in our teen years. You don't need influence to make people do drugs just like you don't need sex on TV for people to get it on. The media tends to always blame something though. Just cause all this stuff exists I don't think any of it has to do with media type influences...the influences have changed over years, the results are always the same.
  3. Descartesx
    It's irresponsible to say that there is a causal nature between social networking and drug use. Choosing to use drugs and using social networking sites are two different actions and remain independent of each other for the fact that if a person did not wish to use drugs in the first place, the internet is highly unlikely to persuade them into doing so.

    Bear in mind that there is only a statistical increase and if social networking sites are to blame, then why is every teen that is using facebook or myspace not using psychoactive chemicals? This would bode badly for hardline and straight-edge groups that happen to be on these sites.....
  4. Meow Tse Dung
    I wonder how they did their research...
    To me, my Cat, and most of our friends, having pictures of drug use, ir anything related to drug use isn't good. With the wave of people getting fired, or being turned down for jobs because of what was found on their facebook, less and less people will be putting incriminating stuff out there...
    That's what me thinks... Anyway, on my Cat's facebook, there is only one picture, that only a drug user would be able to link to drug use, that could be suspicious.
    To-day's youth doesn't want to get caught, and Facebook isn't were they'll post incriminating material.

    ...Then again, not as much can be said about alcohol abuse. Since it's legal.

    Also, they talk of mySpace... But who's on that site our days?! It's Soooo 3 years ago. Even Smosh.com pointed that out in the video: If the internet was real. Hihi... funny video.

    The people these guys interview... Come on! Anyone is having more fun then someone logged into facebook!

    It all seems like a dose of anti-"Social Network" propaganda. Trying to scare the shit out of parents.

    Hiding my Facebook from the MAN,
    Meow =^.^=
  5. Troussman
    So basically according to this organization about 95% of all teens are considerably more likely to smoke, drink, use drugs. Cause almost every teen I've met has a facebook, even large amounts of pre-teens are getting onto facebook. Having a facebook is as common as having a cell phone, its standard material to kids these days.
  6. EscapeDummy
    Teens Are Getting High On Social Media (Editorial/Opinion)

    Alt Text: Teens Are Getting High on Social Media


    I have alarming news. Prepare yourself to be alarmed. You may also want to prepare those around you. “Hold on, everyone,” you might say if you’re a considerate person. “Chances are I’m about to become alarmed. If you don’t want to be alarmed yourself, I suggest you leave the room or ignore me.”

    Trust me, people are going to be happy to leave the room or ignore you. They’ve actually kind of been looking for an excuse.

    Now that everyone has proper notification, here’s the alarming news: A study has determined that something popular among teenagers is actually bad for them and for society. I know! Weird!

    The evil popular thing this time around is social networking. Even as we speak, social networking is getting high-fives from previous teen immoralities like texting, videogames, rap music, role-playing games, heavy metal music, long hair, rock music, comic books, jazz music, chewing gum, novels, card games and music.

    Apparently teenagers who use social networks are more likely to drink smoke, take drugs and presumably worship Satan in his dark majesty than teenagers who don’t use social networks.

    I’m sure your reaction is the same as mine: “There are teenagers who don’t use social networks?” I’m guessing they don’t use social networks because the patriarch of the compound has declared TCP/IP a tool of the secular conspiracy. Which, to be fair, it kind of is.

    If I’m right — and I haven’t been wrong since March 2000, when I took my entire savings out of Apple stock and invested it in Pets.com — the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, which conducted the research, has the situation exactly backward.

    Facebook doesn’t cause drug abuse; drug abuse makes people turn to Facebook.

    Here’s the evidence: People on drugs do things that are eerily similar to popular Facebook activities. Clearly, social networking just gives various tweakers, stoners and trippers a venue for their drug-fueled antics.
    Unconvinced? Check out this list of various recreational drugs and the way they make you act like a hard-core Facebooker:

    Drives you to track down and bother people you broke up with years ago.

    Convinces you that you have discovered the secrets of the universe and that you must share them with the world.

    Makes you ask people you barely know to help harvest your soybeans.

    “I have hundreds of friends!”

    Makes you stay awake for days in a row doing nothing productive.

    Spurs you to poke people with no regard for the consequences.

    “This was fun at first, but now I hate it and yet I’m going to spend my entire life doing it.”

    Makes you decide after careful consideration that, if you were a Star Wars bounty hunter, you’d be IG-88.

    Makes you like everything.

    Fills you with the paranoid fear that Mark Zuckerberg knows your darkest secrets and is sharing them with everyone.

    Forces you to stop whatever you’re doing for 10 minutes every hour to get your fix.

    Makes you realize, somewhere deep inside you, that you are a terrible person.

    Eventually you lose contact with everyone who isn’t also addicted to it.

    Makes you think you’ve convinced everyone you’re naturally incredibly attractive, when in fact everyone knows you’re cheating and you look pretty creepy anyway.

    Compels you to compulsively spout whatever you’re thinking about to anyone who will listen.

    Is the opiate of the masses.

    Image: Rex Dingler/Flickr
    - – -
    Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg eventually overcame these handicaps to become a crackhead, an acidhead and a godhead.

  7. MikePatton
    Well, maybe I'm oversimplifying things here but since 99% of teenagers today use Facebook, Tweeter, Myspace, etc. I would assume the remaining 1% do not use it because they do not have any friends.

    Alcohol and weed are not fun to do without any friends (At least not at first), case closed.
  8. Crazy Insane Sanity
    Maybe being more social in general makes kids more prone to use drugs, because people who have more diverse social connections are more likely to be exposed to said substances?

    Maybe kids who frequent Facebook try harder to fit in, making them more susceptible to the effects of peer pressure?

    Maybe kids who spend every waking moment updating their status, searching for friends, and checking for new comments, have more addictive personalities, and are therefor more likely to continue using addictive substances?

    Well, honestly, I haven't read this study all the way through, but there seems to be an awful lot of confounding variables here...too many for me to reach any sort of conclusions on the matter. Really, though, I think if you take away Facebook from teens, you would also have to tell them not to be social in real life. Either way they are going to be exposed to a myriad of different behaviors from their peers, that they can then emulate. Perhaps it's not Facebook that's causing kids to use drugs, but poor education on the subject at hand?
  9. alienesseINspace
    Let's just sum it up... boredom! Boredom = looking for something to do which will include internet and drugs.

    The ones that avoid drugs and alcohol early on are the ones that are have active relationships, responsibilities, interests, and friends that don't use drugs.

    The only people I know who don't have a Facebook page are my grandparents and my former drugs dealers. Just sayin'....
  10. Meow Tse Dung
    I wouldn't completely agree with your second line there, about people who avoid drugs have active relationships, etc... I don't think the link between drug use and what you said.
    I have many counterexamples.

    But I will agree with what you said right after, dealers don't have Facebook.
    Facebook has been used so much as a tool to find "drunks and junkies", one would avoid publishing their drug use to the people who could then fire them from their job, or kick them out of their school.

    Meow =^.^=
  11. molly
    What really astounds me about that article is how much the government cares about it's youth. They make drugs illegal to protect us. They throw us in jail to protect society from further harm because we, as drug users, are violent criminals. If we didn't have laws trying to prohibit drug use, and all these anti-drug campaigns (ie. D.A.R.E.) the world wouldn't be a safe place. They try to filter what the media can broadcast. They care so much that they only legalize certain drugs, and hand them out as prescriptions to control and monitor who uses them. They get these wonderful, safe and effective drugs approved by the FDA before releasing them to the public to ensure public safety. You even see advertisements on TV about how a prescription drug may be just for you.

    Sorry for using such sarcasm, I couldn't help myself. My point is though, the government pretends to want to prevent drug use by filtering media, and scaring parents; yet they continue to push drugs onto people, for anything, starting at age 3... depression (overwhelmingly upset or bothered), anxiety (think a lot), social anxiety (being shy), bipolar disorder (feeling up and down), add (inability to concentrate on something boring), adhd (hyperactivity, which i've noticed only exists in children. my theory is these kids just dont get enough regular exercise), and the list goes on and on. the government has come up with nearly enough mental illnesses to medicate everybody. and every year, more and more people are diagnosed with a "mental illness." so much for trying to end the drug war?
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