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This report from "The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse" at Columbia University details seemingly shocking figures from America linking use of social networking sites to increased use of drugs and alcohol in teenagers in America.
70% of teenagers in the study used a social networking site at least once in a "typical day". Compared to the 30% who didn't the networking group were:
- Five times more likely to use tobacco;
- Three times more likely to use alcohol; and
- Twice as likely to use marijuana.
The figures are then analysed further and, perhaps unsurprisingly those who saw images through these sites of others being drunk or under the influence of drugs were more likely than those who did not to use drugs and alcohol.
The study surveyed just over 1000 teens (using an internet based questionnaire) in America and looked at matched responses from just over half the parents involved (using a telephone questionnaire) to ask the parents perceptions of what effects such images and messages were having on their children.
I was quite shocked to read the statistics contained within the report and wonder about a number of factors...
- Given this is an internet based questionnaire, does it give a truley representative view of teenagers - what about those who dont use the internet?
- Does the fact the report is issued from an organisation whose aim is to highlight problems with drug and alcohol addiction make any figures subject to bias? - how transparent is the organisation?
- Is this data, being from America, representative also of the situation here in the UK? I would like to hope not although I image we would have some similar, if not so prominent, statistics.
The end questions to come from this is...