August 27, 2011

Facebook Teens and Drug Use Study

August 27, 2011. New York. Each year, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University conducts a survey on American’s attitudes on substance abuse. For the first time ever, the Center has added social networking and their effects on teens regarding drugs and alcohol. What they found is that teenagers who frequent social network sites like Facebook and MySpace are more likely to be frequenting drugs and alcohol as well.

Does social media encourage drug & alcohol use?

From the survey just released by Columbia University, experts are already debating what came first, the chick or the egg, so to speak. Are Facebook and MySpace encouraging kids to drink and do drugs? Or are kids who are already more likely to drink and do drugs simply more likely to use social networks too? Based on definitions used by certain segments of the conservative right, Facebook and MySpace can now be classified along with marijuana as a gateway drug. Of course we’re just kidding. But don’t think for a minute there aren’t people out there that are going to use this data to censor or limit social networks.

The survey by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse gathered responses from 1,037 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. They also surveyed 528 parents of those teens. The Center also took a separate telephone survey of 1,006 teens from the same age group.

The first statistic released is that 70 percent of teens use online social network sites everyday, while only 30 percent do not. The social network sites mentioned almost exclusively were Facebook and MySpace.

 

The survey also found that compared to kids who do not frequent Facebook or MySpace everyday, those teens who do are:

  • Five times more likely to use tobacco
  • Three times more likely to use alcohol
  • Two times more likely to use marijuana

 

When asked if they’ve ever seen pictures of kids drunk, passed out or using drugs:

  • 51 percent of kids who use social networks said yes
  • 14 percent of kids who do not use social networks said yes



According to the report, the especially troubling aspect of these numbers is that half of all the kids who saw the images were exposed to them when they were 13 years old or younger. Another interesting survey result is that only 10 percent of parents think spending time on social network sites makes their teens likelier to use drugs or alcohol.

Also for the first time, researchers asked about what they call, ‘suggestive teen programming’. Shows listed in the report as suggestive teen programming include Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, Skins and Gossip Girl. Among the teens surveyed, 46 percent of girls and 19 percent of boys admitted watching the shows.

 

The study found that kids who watch suggestive teen programming are:

  • twice as likely to have used tobacco
  • twice as likely to have used alcohol
  • one and a half times as likely to have used marijuana

 

Another item tracked for the first time is cyber bullying. The survey found that one in five kids admitted to being the victim of cyber bullying on social media sites like Facebook or MySpace.

The study also reports that teens who have been a victim of cyber bullying are:

  • twice as likely to have used tobacco
  • twice as likely to have used alcohol
  • twice as likely to have used marijuana

 

Are you curious about what kids worry about these days? According to the study, when asked what their biggest concerns are, the teens replied:

  • drugs and alcohol (24 percent)
  • social pressures (24 percent)
  • academic/school pressure (12 percent)
  • crime and violence (2 percent)



Public School versus Private School

According to the report, kids enrolled in public high schools report a much higher rate of drugs present or being sold on school grounds than their private high school counterparts. A full 60 percent of kids report being able to find or buy drugs at their high school.

  • 49 percent of public school kids consider their school drug free
  • 76 percent of private school kids consider their school drug free

 

Religion and Religious Services

The survey found that attending religious services on a regular basis affects drug and alcohol use. Compared to teens who attend religious services at least once a week, kids who do not attend services are:

  • 4 times more likely to use tobacco
  • 2 times more likely to drink alcohol
  • 3 times more likely to smoke marijuana

 

Family Dinner

The Columbia University study also asked teens and parents about the time they spend together. Using family dinner time as the basis, they found that compared to kids who eat dinner with their family 5 to 7 times a week, teens who eat dinner with their family 2 times a week or less are:

  • 4 times more likely to use tobacco
  • 2 times more likely to drink alcohol
  • 2 and a half times more likely to smoke marijuana

One final item the report stressed is the correlation between tobacco use and marijuana use. Rather than linking marijuana with alcohol or hard drugs, it seems that according to the study, “Tobacco and marijuana use go hand in hand’. In fact, teens who smoke tobacco are 11 times more likely to use marijuana than kids who don’t smoke – 68 percent versus 6 percent.

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