Social media can be a major source of peer pressure

The Facebook effect? Social media exposure increases smoking and drinking among teens. The Independent, September 5, 2013.

A recent study done by social scientists at USC shows how clearly kids are impacted by involvement with social media engines like Facebook and MySpace. Essentially we are dealing with peer pressure to an exponential power.

Even kids who are not involved with peer groups are affected as they may be friended with a “cool kid” or two, and they are figuring out how to be cool: drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes like the in crowd guys and girls. The idea is that teens see photos of other kids wasted and holding cigs at parties, and they figure it’s the thing to do.

The notion is that alcohol and tobacco becomes normalized and even glamorized by peers or would-be peers at a party somewhere, and the ones operating under the influence of alcohol and the party spirit take pics of themselves and place them on Facebook or MySpace pages, and these goes out to all their friends and hangers-on. These kids viewing the photo shots are often influenced to think that partying with alcohol (and whatever else is happening outside the purview of the camera, ie drugs and sex) is the way to go. So they want it too.

On the one hand, the first use of tobacco, alcohol and even marijuana can be perceived as a rite of adolescents. Most of us did it. On the other, when it becomes an every weekend or every day experience, the teen has a problem. With the advent of Facebook, etc, once the pics go live, they’re out there forever, or at least a long time. And the teen alcohol and marijuana party becomes a main way of seeing the years of high school and college, 24/7.