Survey Links Social Networking Sites with Increased Risk of Substance Abuse in Teens

A new survey suggests teens who spend time on Facebook and other social networking sites are at greater risk of substance abuse compared with teens who don’t visit the sites. An estimated 70 percent of teens spend time on social networking sites in a typical day, the survey found.

The Chicago Tribune reports the survey found teens on social networking sites are more likely to see pictures of their peers drinking or using drugs, which may make these activities appear more normal and acceptable. Compared with teens who avoid social networking sites, those who visit them on a regular basis are five times as likely to use tobacco, three times as likely to drink alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana, the survey revealed.

The survey, conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York, found about half of adolescents on social networking sites have seen online photos of teens who are using alcohol or drugs, or who have passed out.

Mike Males, a researcher at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco, told the newspaper the study did not adequately control for other factors that could be an influence on teens’ decisions about substance abuse, such as their parents’ use of alcohol or drugs.

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    August 26, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    Good job Join Together. At least this time, you print in the story that the science is bogus, “the study did not adequately control for other factors” rather than allow naive readers to just accept it.

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    August 25, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    This is really like saying teens who have peers are more susceptible to peer pressure. What percentage of teens avoid social networking sites? This sample “1,037 teens (546 boys, 491 girls), and 528 of their parents” represents ALL teens? In 2008 there were 21,689,114 estimated teens. I’m not so sure this can possibly be a representative sample. They did the survey online. What percentage of households does not have internet, or a computer? Do those kids “avoid” social networking or are they just in a different socioeconomic class which skews the data.

    Just wondering…

    These sort of “facts” can be generated for anything if you just ask the right people the right questions. Let’s demonize cartoons next week. Kids who watch cartoons 75% more likely to blow themselves up with ACME explosives.

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