10 Things Science

Social networking sites can be just as addicting to teenagers as drugs and alcohol

Choices and Consequences: What to Do When a Teenager Uses Alcohol/Drugs
Choices and Consequences: What to Do When a Teenager Uses Alcohol/Drugs

Social networking website can be addicting. Who knew?

The people at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, that’s who.

They’re the ones who recently came up with a study on teenage drug abuse and addiction entitled NATIONAL SURVEY OF AMERICAN ATTITUDES ON SUBSTANCE ABUSE XVI: TEENS AND PARENTS.

And what they found really shouldn’t be shocking to any parent who has had to pull their child away from their cellphone or Facebook account — the addictive nature of these products seems to naturally lead to other addictive behaviours.

The survey focused on teenagers, ages 12-17. One part of the survey was about social networking sites.

The results showed that, on average, 70% of teens will spend at least a minute or two on social networking sites on any given day.

Of those teens that are using Facebook or similar sites, the survey found that they are five times more likely to smoke, three times more likely to drink alcohol, and twice as likely to smoke pot when compared to the 30% of teenagers who don’t visit social networking websites on a daily basis.

Shocking, isn’t it?  It shouldn’t be.

It’s sort of a “do as we see, not as we’re told” mentality, as the study further found out.

It ends up that the Internet(!) and social networking sites in general, are loaded with photos of other teenagers that are drunk or passed out.  WE KNOW.  Again, who knew?

And of those teens that have seen such photos online vs teens who hadn’t been subjected to the horrors of underaged drinking, the group of teens that had been exposed to that depravity are also three times more likely to use alcohol, and four times more likely to smoke pot than those teens that hadn’t seen the photos.

Watching TV isn’t much better.  Shows like Jersey Shore, Gossip Girl, Teen Mom,  and 16 and Pregnant all fall into the category of “suggestive programming”.  Guess what the survey found out about those teens that watch these programs vs those that didn’t?

That’s right — a greater chance of smoking and drinking over those kids with better television watching habits.

So really, our parents were right — that stuff (TV and computers) will rot your brain out, kid.  Getting outside to play is definitely the healthier choice.