We often wonder what kind of impact certain activities or influences are going to have on us. When it comes to the health and wellbeing of our children, we want what’s best for them, and we want to help them stay away from things that would harm them. Many parents are divided when it comes to social media and their teen, but according to some experts, social networking could have a negative effect.
CASA Study on Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social networking often target teens and young adults. These young individuals are easily drawn to social Internet sites and some young people spend hours a day staying connected to friends this way. A new study called the “National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVI”, done by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), suggests that teens who make use of social networking sites are more likely to also be involved with drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, in this study of 2,000 teens, they found that those who used the social media sites daily were five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to drink alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana.
This study certainly does not prove that Facebook or Twitter cause kids to become involved with drugs and alcohol, but it does show a correlation between the two. Perhaps kids whose parents let them spend so much time on the Internet also have parents who have not adequately talked to them about avoiding drugs and alcohol.
The CASA study also found that 64% of parents whose teen has a presence on a social network said that they don’t monitor what their teen does there. It becomes clear after reading this data that parents need to be diligent about what their children are doing if they allow them to go on these sites. Cyber bullying, glorification of drinking and drugs, and graphic sexual detail are all dangers that parents should keep their child from viewing at a young age. “It is a phenomenal assault on public health that we subject teens to pictures of drugs, alcohol, or teens being drunk or passed out on the Internet, in films, and on TV shows that are suggestive and glorify drinking and drugging,” says CASA President Joseph Califano Jr.. “Parents need to monitor their kids with respect to social networking and the TV shows they watch, and know what their kids’ lives are like.”
Andres Huberman, MD, the medical director of Project Outreach in West Hempstead, N.Y., agrees. “They see these images and there are no moral or educational statements accompanying them, so teens may be left with the impression that this is what the real world is about and that everybody is doing it, so it is OK.” (1)
The Internet is not pure entertainment. Kids who are allowed to view things without restrictions will quickly form opinions about things like drugs, alcohol, and sex based on what they see online. It is important for parents to talk to their child early and stay involved with their teen as they start using social networking so that they know the dangers of things like drinking and drugs before they see pictures and videos of people doing it online.