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Study Shows Facebook a form of Peer Influence

30 September 2013
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New Study Shows Facebook a form of Peer InfluenceSocial network sites like Facebook and MySpace do have an impact on a teen’s choice to smoke or drink, a new study shows.

According to the study, teens that see pictures of their friends drinking or smoking on social networking sites are more likely to take part in those activities as well.

The study was done by the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, and published in the September edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health. Principal investigator Thomas W. Valente, PhD, said, “Our study shows that adolescents can be influenced by their friends’ online pictures to smoke or drink alcohol,” and that online behaviors are a viable source of peer influence.

“This is important to know, given that 95 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States access the Internet every day, and 80 percent of those youth use online social networking sites to communicate,” added Grace C. Huang, PhD, co-author of the study.

Being Responsible Online

Not only do photos and posts about risky behavior have a negative influence on other teens, but they can easily cause problems with a teen’s future career and reputation. Young adults often fail to think about the repercussions that can occur because of their online posts, and they carelessly display information and details that can tarnish their reputation.

Because of the extended periods of time teens regularly spend on social media sites, it is important to continue to educate adolescents about the dangers of substance abuse and risky behaviors, and encourage them to be more responsible in their online posts.

“Our study suggests that it may be beneficial to teach teens about the harmful effects of posting risky behaviors online and how those displays can hurt their friends,” added Dr. Huang.

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