Study: Teens who use social media more likely to drink, use drugs

Chicago Tribune | National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse
American teens who in a typical day spend any time on social networking sites are at increased risk of smoking, drinking and drug use, according to a back-to-school survey [PDF] by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. It found:

Compared to teens that spend no time on social networking sites in a typical day, teens that do are:

* Five times likelier to use tobacco;
* Three times likelier to use alcohol; and
* Twice as likely to use marijuana.

The study’s conclusion rings true to some teens and parents interviewed by the Chicago Tribune. “The Internet puts it in your head,” said 16-year-old Dana Cichon. “You think everyone else is having more fun than you.” A similar observation came from high school senior Michael DeGrace: “When someone constantly sees photos of parties, they sort of feel they’re missing out. 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.” The Chicago Tribune’s reporters note:

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.

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  • Ernest Wynn

    Okay it is a social media, and what is more sociable than drinking or doing drugs….LOL….After all it was Benjamin Franklin who wisely said, “My doctor tells me that if I give up drinking wine, then I will live 10 years longer.  I disagree with the good doctor.  It will only seem like 10 years longer if I give up drinking wine.  And after all, wine is proof that God loves us.”

  • Anonymous

    who and where are these teens (or humans, for that matter) that are NOT using social media? amish? it’s not like social media is just for leisure activities. employers, schools, even churches are using social media to reach out to their respective constituents. it doesn’t even quantify “amount” of use. maybe teens who use social media MORE than average …” but it says “any time on social media.” sheesh.

  • Mike Saunders

    Or, the study could have just as easily read, “Kids who have lots of friends are likely to party more.”

    The findings of this lame study would have been just as true in the 1920s, when the dominant social media boogeyman was the telephone.  

  • Trevor Butterworth

    Good point Phil – and moreover, given the scale of social media use by kids versus non use, I suspect that a similar correlation exists between eating meat and smoking pot. Fascinating that CASA, which has a remarkable history of producing dodgy studies, should release this survey in the dead heat of August.

  • phil sheehan

    Reading the Trib article and perusing the NCASA report makes the case for a connection, but does not prove which way the arrow points. The lede just as easily might be:

    “Teens who drink and use drugs are more likely to use social media than those who do not.”

    The distinction is more than syntactical.