Social Media: The Newest form of Peer Pressure

teenagers alcohol abuseNarconon Drug Educators state that everybody has experienced peer pressure at some time in his or her life. For some people, peer pressure is easily ignored. For others, it is unbearable and can end either with a person’s withdrawal from society or by ‘caving in” to the pressure.

In the past, peer pressure was mainly experienced at school or at parties. Now, with the advances in technology and social media, being physically in a place is not even required for exposure to peer pressure.

In today’s society, the Internet is a “necessary” part of life, and there is one place in particular where everyone seems to be, and that place is Facebook.

If you have a Facebook account, you can see what your friends and acquaintances are doing at any given place and time. They post comments and pictures about the parties they go to, sometimes sharing their “fun” with their cell phones right from the parties. When you log into Facebook, alcohol seems to be the right way to party. How many times have you seen pictures of a friend having a cocktail at some glamorous nightclub?

teenager alcoholAll of this can lead to a common misperception that people who drink alcohol really do have more fun. When people log into their Facebook accounts and see all the glamour and hype surrounding alcohol, it becomes a subtle form of peer pressure.

In a study published in the Drug and Alcohol Review journal, researcher Brad Ridout of the University of Sydney (Australia) tracked the drinking habits and Facebook accounts of 157 Australian university students between the ages of 18 and 24. Ridout coined the phrase “alcohol identity” to describe the persona created by alcohol-related pictures, comments and status updates.

Ridout’s study revealed a correlation between alcohol identity and alcohol consumption. He states, “People who had twice the number of [alcohol-related] photos and references had twice as many alcohol problems.” But what about the people who viewed these photos and references?

Narconon rehab has found studies showing that photos posted of people using alcohol are linked to the number of young adults who drink. In light of recent survey results, Ridout commented, “…the more drinking is depicted as socially desirable on Facebook; the more it perpetuates an online culture that normalizes binge drinking.”

For an example of this Facebook alcohol effect in action, picture a student cooped up in his dorm room studying who stops to take a break to “check Facebook.” He might come across a photo of a friend at a pub right down the street who looks to be having a marvelous time. While there has not been a direct invitation, the photo has served as a subtle form of pressure to “come and join the fun.”

meetings narconon Narconon meetings are a proven source of support and are available for students at risk for or currently struggling with alcohol abuse. There are many reliable centers locations around the county and offer immediate assistance and support.

For information about alcohol treatment services, call 1 888-257-9052.

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