Facebook Photos Cause Risky Behavior Among Teens

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Facebook Photos Cause Risky Behavior Among Teens

Teenagers who see friends smoking and drinking alcohol in photos posted on Facebook are more likely to smoke and drink themselves, according to a new study from the University of Southern California. The study shows that adolescents can be influenced by their friends’ online pictures to smoke or drink alcohol. The researchers surveyed 1,563 10th-grade students in October 2010 and April 2011 about their online and offline friendship networks and the frequency of their social media use, smoking and alcohol consumption.

The researchers found that the size of one’s online network of friends was not significantly associated with risky behavior. Exposure to friends’ online pictures of partying or drinking, however, was significantly associated with both smoking and alcohol use. Teens whose close friends did not drink alcohol were more likely to be affected by increasing exposure to risky online pictures.
Students who responded to the survey were evenly distributed across gender and on average 15 years old. About two-thirds were Hispanic/Latino and about one-fourth were Asian, which closely reflects the ethnic distribution of El Monte. In April 2011, nearly 30 percent of respondents had smoked and more than half had at least one drink of alcohol. Roughly one-third of students reported having at least one friend who smoked and/or consumed alcohol.

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