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Do Alcohol-Related Social Media Posts Provoke an Increase with Underage Drinking in Adolescents?

The Journal, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research , devised a study based off the reactions underage drinkers had to the exposure of ads, photos, videos, and posts that promoted alcohol. Social media gives teens the ability to view other teens at parties drinking alcohol, read advertisements for alcohol that are meant to appeal to adults, or see humorous behaviors that resulted from consuming alcohol in abundance. Research began to test the effect alcohol based social media interaction had on adolescents. Meta-Analysis of the Association of Alcohol-Related Social Media Use with Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol-Related Problems in Adolescents and Young Adults was the study that was devised by the Perelman School of Medicine Center for Studies of Addiction. The author, Brenda Curtis, PHD and her colleagues, classified 19 articles that were meant for meta-analysis in showing how 9,000 social media users responded to the posts. Users were classified by liking the posts, what they had commented, and how many times the posts were seen. Curtis has been quoted saying, "Substance use, particularly alcohol, is frequently displayed on social media sites - this normalizes drinking for teens and young adults. To date, reviews have considered drinking behavior in relation to risky behavior, such as binge drinking, or advertising content, rather than focusing on alcohol-related social media engagement. This meta-analysis allowed us to examine the relationship between alcohol-themed social media activity and alcohol consumption or alcohol-related problems in young adults." Their findings in the study showed that Curtis and her associates found an overwhelming correlation with alcohol consumption in all 19 studies. Alcohol-related social media proved to have had a significant effect on adolescents and their alcohol consumption. Around 9 percent of adolescents who had been privy to the posts with glamorized drinking, consumed alcohol within a month of exposure by exhibiting binge drinking, showing remorse, blacking out, and receiving injuries when they were under the influence. Explaining more, Curtis stated, Further research is necessary, so we can better understand the cause and relationship between social media and alcohol consumption. This is especially important given that social-media sites can expose adolescents and young adults to alcohol content and marketing. This exposure may increase the likelihood of their drinking. Additional research can help determine the causal direction of these associations, which could provide opportunities for social-media-based interventions with young drinkers that incorporate machine learning, aimed at reducing alcohol consumption and alcohol-related issues.

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