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Social Media is Not to Blame for Alcohol Use – New Survey Suggests

Scrolling through my Instagram feed on a Sunday morning, I see blurred flashbacks of Saturday night’s activities — guys doing keg stands, girls holding fruity drinks…and that one obligatory “friend of a friend” passed out on a bathroom floor.

I flick my thumb over the screen, never thinking twice of the underage kids’ party photos.

Sign of the Times?

It seems like teenagers are drinking, smoking and having sex younger and younger. But why? What has changed?

Studies suggest that the massive growth of social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are a major contributing factor. With teens creating accounts and profiles at just 13 years old, social media seems like a logical catalyst for the worrisome behavior of young adults, causing concerned parents to “hover” in an attempt to monitor and control their child’s every digital move.

Yet a recent Rehabs.com survey suggests parents can take the Internet anxiety down a notch.

When 403 people between the ages of 18 and 24 were asked: “Does seeing or hearing about your peers’ drinking via social media make the idea of consuming alcohol more appealing to you?” Nearly three-quarters of respondents answered “No.”

Negative Feelings Attached to Drinking

Furthermore, when given the opportunity to address why they felt this way, a majority of these young adults wrote that seeing their peers drink on social media created negative connotations surrounding the behavior.

“I actually feel more motivated to not drink because I find their behavior reckless (not to mention illegal) when viewing it on social media,” one 18 year-old female respondent wrote. A 23 year-old male echoed her sentiment: “What I do see and hear doesn’t affect me. We’re all doing our own thing. Who cares?”

Although many parents will likely still worry, it’s worth noting that the same Rehabs.com survey results suggest that social media isn’t where most teens’ information about drinking is coming from. A teens’ friends, not their Facebook feed, appear to matter most. In fact, according to the survey, social media has about the same influence as parents, school, and other forms of media such as blogs, movies, television and magazines.

It’s clear that screens are here to stay — teens and their devices are not being pulled apart anytime soon. Yet their parents might take solace in knowing there’s a large possibility that social media doesn’t have a harmful effect, or any effect, on their child’s drinking habits.

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Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.

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