Viewing Story

New Survey says teenagers on social networks more likely to smoke, drink and do drugs

Posted by on 25/08/2011


According to a survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teenagers who use social networking websites are more likely to smoke, drink and do drugs.

A survey of 1037 teenagers between the ages of 12-17 took part in a survey, 70% of them spent time on social networks on a daily basis, while the 30% remaining did not. Those who spent time online were 5 times as likely to use tobacco, 3 times as likely to use alcohol and 2 times as likely to use marijuana. They also noted that they have been exposed to pictures of their friends being drunk, high and passed out were also likely to adopt a bad habits (3 times more likely to drink alcohol, 4 times more likely to obtain and use marijuana, and much more likely to associate themselves with classmates who are involved or have drugs and alcohol).

“The relationship of social networking site images of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs and of suggestive teen programming to increased teen risk of substance abuse offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia’s Founder and Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. “The time has come for those who operate and profit from social networking sites like Facebook to deploy their technological expertise to curb such images and to deny use of their sites to children and teens who post pictures of themselves and their friends drunk, passed out or using drugs. Continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse.

While the surveyors may claim to have found relationships between the amount of time spent of social networks and drug use, it is still hard to say that it is the definite cause of such happenings. For starters, they did not mention if those teenagers surveyed were presently drug/alcohol users, and with so many other influences such as television ads, parental habits and more, putting the sole blame social networking would be totally unjust.

Teenagers have been involved in drug  and alcohol use long before the advent of social networking, so the link between the two subjects of study isn’t really likely.

  • Deviant Backup

    I love how cause an effect could have been mixed up, plus complete ignorance of ‘correlation does not imply causality’. I’d say it’s more likely that people who smoke, drink and do drugs enjoy social networking more than those who do not and that the cause/effect implied in the article is actually backward.

    And as for the implication that the use of social networks increases the amount of substance abuse, I’d look at a more likely scenario of social networks have shown just how many people abuse substances. It’s not that there’s an increased number of people doing it because of social networks, it’s just that there’s a higher awareness of it because photos are uploaded.

    And I think you should look far beyond social networks for answers to why substance abuse is on the rise.

    Full disclosure: I dislike facebook and use it on a bi-weekly (once every two weeks) basis, and only when someone else talks to me first on there.

  • Bradley Wint

    Agreed. I think the survey generalized things and did not mention consideration for a number of other influential factors. Also just because one thing happens in coincidence with another does not mean it is necessarily related.

  • Markdell90

    This just in guys, socially awkward kids aren’t in to social drinking/drugs.

    Also, a new study suggests teenagers who attend highschool are more likely to party hard.

    Who is running these BS surveys and getting paid for it? I could have told you this with a facebook status while I downed a 40.

  • andrew s

    this seems counter-intuitive. from my experience, the trouble makers aren’t very fond of social networking and speed more time out doing odd things

  • Anonymous

    Maybe that’s because everyone is on social networks. So then they’d have to be more prone to it, since everyone is on social networks. Let me guess, when mobile phones went mainstream, teenagers were more prone to succumbing to things they’ll succumb to anyway in college. And when the 80s went mainstream, everyone got AIDS because they’re so terrible for existing in the 90s. Give it a rest Columbia, your survey is undeniably retarded. By that I mean a mentally damaged infant could comprehend that when more people press the ‘like’ button on weed, it doesn’t mean that more people like weed because they pressed like on it. It just means people are admitting to things now and they didn’t used to have an outlet to show people what they like over a network.
    You’ve actually managed to beat a dead horse into a puddle of blood with a shoe and a bag of M&Ms.

More in Computing, Featured, Policies/Ethics (19 of 70 articles)