Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Social networking and susbtance abuse

A recent poll in the US shows that spending too much time in social media sites can lead to various addictions such as smoking, drugs and alcohol. Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse's recent study show that those who log in daily at social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are more likely to be involved in the said addictions, than those who don’t use the sites daily. It said that teenagers who see pictures of drinking, smoking or substance abuse are more likely to use or be influenced in trying the substances for themselves. The study calls for a stricter regulation for these social networking sites, stating that “continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse”.

My reaction: LOL WUT? Most commentators dismiss the claim as ridiculous, stating that correlation is not causation. I agree. Yes, teenagers are more likely to be influenced by what their friends do (peer pressure!) and technology can overtake real life, but this study discounts the possibility of discretion and other factors like culture or family upbringing. Sure, the internet becomes the platform to view these things but it’s not simply the cause. It's dangerous to simplify the problem of substance abuse by blaming the internet or technology.It creates unnecessary fear and paranoia and could possibly touch upon the oft-debated issue of freedom of speech in the internet.

But! if this were true, and there really is a link between alcohol, tobacco or drug addiction and social networking, then parents and the government would have one more thing to worry about. And I should probably have my teen siblings get checked for drugs.

See the full report here

Sources: yahoo, hufftington post, latimes

Krystel Jehan M. Bautista, entry no. 11

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