Kids don’t have to be face-to-face to influence each other. New research finds that online peer pressure through Twitter and Facebook can be just as influential as offline interactions when it comes to alcohol and drug use.
According to eNews Park Forest, researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health polled 3,447 people ages 18-24 across the United States.
The major finding of the study: more alcohol content seen on social media means more alcohol consumed.
The more photos, videos, links and comments related to alcohol that these subjects saw, the more likely they were to drink. And similarly, higher alcohol use was associated with more images of alcohol consumption uploaded to those users’ social networks.
The researchers couldn’t find a direct link between social media influence and drug use, but they did find that those who were concerned about what their peers would think if they posted an image of marijuana were less likely to report marijuana use.
However, social media also provides support: those polled who thought their peers and families would be disappointed in them if they viewed images of alcohol consumption were less likely to drink.
Sarah Stoddard, one of the key researchers with this project, explains their thoughts on the findings:
“We were surprised… that attitudes about whether it was ok to post images and updates about drinking were not associated with alcohol use. If you see what peers are doing, it perhaps is more socially acceptable.”
(Drinking image via Shutterstock)