American teens using social networking sites like Facebook are more likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs, suggests a survey conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA Columbia).
The results revealed that among the surveyed 12 to 17-year olds, about 70 percent spend some time on a social networking site on a typical day while 30 percent don't.
The research concludes that when compared to kids that don't use social networking sites on a typical day, kids that do spend their time on such sites are:
• Five times likelier to use tobacco;
• Three times likelier to use alcohol; and
• Twice as likely to use marijuana.
Also, the survey results suggest that kids who have seen photos of other kids drunk or getting drunk, or using drugs on social networking sites are:
• Three times likelier to use alcohol;
• Four times likelier to use marijuana;
• Four times likelier to be able to get marijuana
• Three times likelier to be able to get controlled prescription drugs without a prescription
• Two times likelier to be able to get alcohol in a day or less
• Much likelier to have friends and classmates who abuse illegal and prescription drugs
“The findings in this year’s survey should strike Facebook fear into the hearts of parents of young children and drive home the need for parents to give their children the will and skill to keep their heads above the water of the corrupting cultural currents their children must navigate," said Joseph A Califano, Jr., CASA Columbia’s founder and chairman and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
“The time has come for those who operate and profit from social networking sites like Facebook to deploy their technological expertise to curb such images and to deny use of their sites to children and teens who post pictures of themselves and their friends drunk, passed out or using drugs. Continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse," he adds.
Other finds made by the survey include 19 percent of teens ages 12-17 (more than 4.5 million teens) report being cyber bullied (having someone post mean or embarrassing things about them on a social networking site) and 87 percent of parents said they think spending time on social networking sites does not make it more likely their child will drink alcohol.
In the survey, CASA Columbia carried out an internet-based survey between March 27 to April 27, 2011 on a sample of 1,037 American teens, of whom 546 were boys and 491 were girls.
At least one media outlet, PCWorld, raises skepticism over CASA's findings, claiming that other causes namely "Peer pressure, boredom, familial conflicts, history of family substance abuse, depression, experimentation, and good, old-fashioned parental neglect" have strongly influenced teens to abuse substances even before Facebook existed.