Adolescent Social Media Use & Substance Use

Adolescent Social Media Use & Substance Use

A recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior (2022) examined the relationship between intensity of social media use (SMU), problematic SMU and well-being outcomes.

Four categories of SMU were developed taking into account both intensity of use and problematic SMU simultaneously: non-active; active; intense; and problematic use. 

Data from 190,089 respondents aged 11, 13, and 15 years from 42 countries involved in the Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) study were analyzed. 

The problematic users showed the least favorable mental and social well-being profile and the highest level of substance use.

The results of the present study provide new evidence showing that users experiencing addiction-like symptoms related to social media (i.e., problematic users) may be more likely to use different substances compared with adolescents who rarely use social media (i.e., non-active users).

In other words, problems with social media such as regularly neglecting other activities, having conflict with family, often using social media to escape from negative feelings or lying about the frequency of social media may be more important than simply the regularity or intensity of social media use for predicting and influencing youth substance use. 

One implication for prevention specialists is to educate youth and parents of the symptoms for social media addiction, and the risk of problematic social media use for increasing youth substance use.

This study represents another example of the necessity for prevention and health organizations and professionals to integrate multiple and emerging health risks within single prevention programs and campaigns and to promote protective wellness habits to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of youth.

Read the entire research paper:

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