U. MICHIGAN (US) — Peer pressure concerning alcohol and drugs is just as influential if it’s communicated via Facebook or Twitter as in person, new research suggests.
To discover how peers influence one another on Internet social platforms with regard to alcohol and marijuana use, researchers polled an online sample of 3,447 people ages 18-24 across the United States and found that greater alcohol content online is associated with higher levels of drinking.
The researchers looked specifically at the association between substance use and the presence of alcohol and marijuana content on social networking sites and perceived norms about posting such content.
Published in the November issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the study looked specifically at the association between substance abuse and the presence of alcohol and marijuana content on internet social networking sites and perceived norms about posting such content.
Young adults who thought their parents and peers would be upset if they viewed images of their drinking and drug use online were less likely to drink. Further, those who reported more online peer support were less likely to use alcohol.
Also, alcohol use was associated with the number of images of such activity on the respondents’ social sites.
An association between online content and marijuana use couldn’t be established, but those who were concerned about negative reactions from others if they were to post images of drinking and drug use online were less likely to report marijuana use.
“We were surprised, however, 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,” says Sarah Stoddard, research assistant professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.
“This information suggests use of these social platforms could be a good way to reach young adults with messages about alcohol and marijuana use and other health behaviors. And images may be effective in a social networking environment.”
Source: University of Michigan