Teen Drug Use Blamed on Facebook, Twitter (Really)

Updated at the bottom with what youth expert Mike Males has to say about the study (it ain't good). First posted at 12:18 p.m. Wednesday

We have a drug problem in America (the first step toward recovery is admitting your issue) and its ... Facebook's fault!

That's right, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University released its annual back-to-school study today: It concludes that social-networking teens are generally the bad ones.

Why you ask? The National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI: Teens and Parents blames ...

... photos. Lots and lots of party crazed photos posted to Facebook, Twitter and the like.

They make kids want to snort and smoke and do other things, apparently, (though no direct cause is established -- it's all about correlation here).

The study says American teens ages 12 to 17 who spend time on social networking site are more likely to be bad seeds than the 30 percent of kids who don't. According to a statement they're ...

Five times likelier to use tobacco

Three times likelier to use alcohol

Twice as likely to use marijuana

In fact, the study stays 40 percent of social-networking teens have seen pics of friends getting high, passe out or drunk. And that means they're (you guessed it) ...

Three times likelier to use alcohol

Four times likelier to use marijuana

Four times likelier to be able to get marijuana

Much likelier to have friends and classmates who abuse illegal and prescription drugs.

So while there's plenty of temptation in L.A. in the form of pot shops (at least one is alleged to have marketed itself to high school kids), the real threat here is your kid's laptop.

Update: Youth sociologist, former UC Irvine prof, and debunker-in-chief Mike Males calls bullshit on this study.

His main qualm is that it compares 12-year-olds with 17-year-olds in the social networking and non-social networking groups. It lumps very different kinds of kids together, making it seem as if its the social networkers at fault when it could just be the older kids doing what older kids do. In other words (well, in his words):

To have a glimmer of validity, the study would have to compare the behaviors of youths of identical age. That 12 year-olds both would be far less likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs than 17 year-olds, and also much less likely to access social media, would mean that all the survey found its that older teens use both media and substances more than the youngest teens. That is, it found nothing unusual and certainly nothing about media influences.

So yeah, older teens tend to do bad stuff. In order to be more scientific the study would have had to isolate 12-year-olds who use social media and those who don't, etc.


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