Social media is turning your kids into drug users and alcoholics, implies the annual survey by The National Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction at Columbia University. How did they reach that conclusion?
The survey questioned 2000 teens and 500 parents. Seventy percent of the teens said they spent time on social media sites every day. Of those teens, 25% admitted to drinking alcohol, and lesser percentages admitted smoking and using marijuana. The survey concluded that the 70% were five times as likely as the 30% who didn’t to drink, three times more likely to smoke, and two times more likely to use marijuana.
The immediate question that arises for this author is who are these teens who don’t tweet about their day or go on Facebook? They either have extremely strict parents or don’t have access to computers or cellphones, or maybe they don’t speak English. It’s very possible that teens that don’t use social media would be less likely to admit to these vices, being less used to sharing their personal lives with others.
The next question is, what about the 3/4 of teens on social media who don’t drink, smoke or use marijuana? Do you think that most of your usual crowd of teens haven’t done any of these things? Maybe so, but that still is a lot of really good kids using social media. If 25% is 5 times more than the norm, does that mean the norm is less than 5%? And if you flip the statistic, doesn’t it sound much more positive to say that 75% of the teens do not use drugs, smoke, or drink alcohol?
The survey claims, according to this article at WebPro News , that the reason these teens are more likely to drink, smoke or use weed is that they see pictures of other kids doing the same things online, often before they are 13 years old, and they figure if those cool kids are getting drunk and passing out, smoking cigarettes, and getting high, then they can do it, too.
First of all, teens really do not belong on Facebook or Twitter or any unsupervised use of the Internet before the age of 13. But, for older teens, do you think they have not seen other teens getting drunk, smoking, or getting high at school, at parties, at football games, or on tv or in movies? Give teens some credit. If they are taught well by their parents, they may experiment with alcohol or marijuana, but they will probably make good decisions in the end. If they don’t, it probably won’t be because of images they saw on Facebook or anywhere else.
There are so many variables in this study. Are teens who drink, smoke or get high just more sociable online? Are teens who don’t drink,smoke or use marijuana just less social or open about their habits in general?
At any rate, parents should be aware of what their teens are posting online, especially when it comes to photos. If your teen is on Twitter or Facebook, get your own account and follow them. They might not like it, but they will be a lot safer, and a lot less likely to look at photos of drunken, stoned peers.