Social media has become a constant in the modern-day consumer’s life. Many rely on it to gather information, research products, and connect with people from all around the world.
While social media could be beneficial to both businesses and consumers, it also hides various dangers. One of its drawbacks is that it could promote the wrong messages. Once they reach a vulnerable set of users, like adolescents, the harm could be immense.
The Link Between Social Media & Teen Drug Use
When you are young, curiosity is common. You get to experiment with nearly anything you come across. Drugs are no exception to the rule. Under normal circumstances, your friends and family have the most impact on your decisions. However, once you start using social media, the circle of influence grossly enlarges. Now, you can observe and subsequently model a range of behaviors.
Following celebrities who promote healthy habits could improve a teenager’s life. When the influencers proudly display their unhealthy behaviors, though, adolescents may have trouble recognizing the dangers in those. Conversely, they may even find them appealing and confuse them for adventurous and brave. If a celebrity embraces her alcohol or drug activities on social media, it greatly increases the likelihood of her followers imitating the behaviors. This is extremely risky for vulnerable populations, especially teenagers who, more than anyone else, desire to be cool and accepted.
What the Stats Show About Social Media & Teen Drug Use
Teenagers are among the biggest fans of the various social media platforms:
- Over 70 % use Facebook
- More than 50 % are on Instagram
- Over 40 % use Snapchat
- More than 30 % Tweet
- Over 20 % use TikTok
While these numbers are not scary when use is monitored and purposeful, they show a scary potential for harmful messages being circulated. Recent studies show that teenagers who are constantly exposed to drugs through social media are about three times more likely to experiment with the named substances.
Do Social Media Ads Influence Teen Drug Use?
The truth is that celebrities are not the only people on social media who have an impact on teen drug use. While it is illegal to target minors with alcohol, tobacco, and drug ads, social media provides an unprecedented opportunity for these industries. Various studies have examined the effects of social media ads that display substance use on underaged people.
The results are alarming, with 75 % of the exposed subjects reporting a high likelihood of experimenting with the drugs they previously saw on social media. The explanation lies not only in subliminal messaging but also in the adolescent desire to feel the same way the people in the ads seem to. This has been linked to the increase in underage alcohol and tobacco use, with over 30 % being attributed to premature exposure to social media ads.
Another crucial result that the studies reveal is that seeing photos of happy substance users increases the likelihood of teenagers experimenting with drugs. The ones who were subjected to such images on social media are three times more likely to consume alcohol and four times more likely to try marijuana.
Social Media, Depression, and Drug Use Among Teenagers
One of the most prominent issues with underage social media use is that it can trigger or worsen depression. Over 27 % of adolescents who spend three or more hours per day on social media display signs of poor mental health.
The false images that teenagers see could trick them to believe that their daily experiences are unworthy and boring. Feelings of depression could follow. Teenagers may seek asylum in the substances they have already seen and accepted. They are more likely to try to suppress their negative feelings, as they no longer perceive them as normal.
Monitoring Social Media Use & Open Discussions
Responsible parenthood should incorporate conversations about the dangers of social media use associated with drug use. Even responsible teenagers could fall victim to powerful marketing campaigns and well-crafted influencer promotions. Monitoring social media use and encouraging open debates on the risks of substance abuse could prevent your family from experiencing addiction.
If you suspect that your kid may be suffering from a substance use disorder, you should seek immediate help. Often, detox is a necessary first step to recovery. If you are unsure of where to begin, a Google search for your local area could shine some light, e.g. “Teen drug detox, PA”. Contact your preferred facilities and ask them for further guidance. Timely therapy is crucial to successful sobriety.