Does Social Media Promote Drinking and Peer Pressure?
Most of us have all done it. We clicked “like” on an alcohol sponsored Facebook page. We have seen a recipe for an alcoholic beverage on Pinterest and thought, “Oh I want to try and make this.” We have all seen photos of a friend’s night out on the town or a party and wished we had been there. These responses beg the question: Does social media promote drinking? Researchers are finding out quickly that yes, social media promotes drinking or at least thinking about drinking.
Social media is becoming an increasingly powerful force in our culture daily. Currently many people exclusively get their news from various Facebook feeds. Sharing stories and photos is an easy way for people to keep in touch with friends and family that they normally would not have or could not have interacted with on a daily basis. This accessibility is both a blessing and a curse. Having access to so much information at ones finger tips is great when the information is disseminated and used properly. What about when it gets into the wrong persons hands? Researchers aimed to find out if social media promote drinking? Michigan State University did a study on 400 participants to see if alcohol related content encouraged them to drink or consider drinking. What they have found is that engaging with that type of content, whether it be liking, sharing, or commenting on it, made the likelihood of them thinking about drinking even greater.
When searching for alcohol related content on the internet, one must click that they are over 21, or enter their date of birth before entering a website containing such content. Facebook does not advertise alcohol related content to those under the age of 21. What Facebook cannot control though is who is sharing or commenting on alcohol related posts. If you have friends who are underage and you have commented, liked, or shared such content in your news feed, you have now inadvertently exposed them to alcohol related content. This unintentional glorification of alcohol may cause some to be influenced into drinking, when normally they might not have been. Facebook has become so commonplace in today’s society, people often checking it multiple times daily to see the goings on of their friends and family that inevitably this type of exposure is going to happen. What also needs to happen just as often to combat such exposure is an open dialog about alcohol, consuming alcohol and the dangers of alcohol abuse. Once someone has reached legal drinking age, the conversation needs to also include the dangers of binge drinking and how drinking in moderation is key. Having a solid foundation built upon openness and honesty when discussing such topics should lead to a healthy relationship with alcohol in the future.