Social media use puts teens at risk of developing drug and alcohol issues


New analysis has discovered adolescents who’re energetic on social media are being uncovered to content material that might put them prone to creating drug and alcohol points.

The examine, led by College of Queensland PhD scholar Brienna Rutherford from UQ’s Nationwide Centre for Youth Substance Use Analysis, examined how drug and alcohol use content material was portrayed throughout social media.

“We checked out nearly 16 million posts throughout Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and Weibo and located the vast majority of drug and alcohol use content material was depicted positively,” Ms Rutherford mentioned.

“This constructive depiction is regarding as a result of adolescents and younger adults are probably the most susceptible and heaviest customers of social media globally, spending a median of eight hours a day on-line.

“There’s proof to point out teenagers who’re uncovered to excessive ranges of substance use are extra seemingly to make use of and develop points with alcohol, tobacco and hashish.

“In truth, alcohol and drug use is the principle contributor to illness in adolescents and younger adults.

“Higher restrictions are wanted on social media platforms to make sure underage customers will not be partaking with or uncovered to probably dangerous content material.”

The examine discovered user-generated content material depicting substance use as constructive was most prevalent on social media which is prone to affect teenage viewer’s habits.

Solely round 21 per cent of posts sampled have been discovered to be from public well being and academic organizations sharing info on the dangerous results of substance use.

Ms Rutherford says public well being schooling businesses have to do extra to speak the potential dangers of drugs.

Social media is an extremely highly effective software for change and, if harnessed appropriately, might be a large asset for public well being messaging.

Social media is a large alternative for public well being organizations to teach teenagers on the dangers related to substance use.”

Brienna Rutherford, PhD Pupil, UQ’s Nationwide Centre for Youth Substance Use Analysis

At the moment, there are age restrictions on graphic content material involving sexual themes or high-risk behaviors however substance use is comparatively unregulated on-line.

Many platforms have taken a blanket strategy to banning or limiting related hashtags however they are often simply discovered by publicly out there web search engines like google and yahoo.


Journal reference:

Rutherford, B.N., et al. (2022) #TurntTrending: a scientific assessment of substance use portrayals on social media platforms. Dependancy.

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