Scroll, See, Sip: How Social Media Encourages Youth to Drink
By The Queenslander Staff
A recent study from the University of Queensland has found that exposure to alcohol-related content on social media directly correlates with problematic drinking behaviours among young people.
The research, spearheaded by PhD candidate Brandon (Hsu-Chen) Cheng of UQ’s Australian National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research, analysed data from 30 global studies involving over 19,000 individuals aged 24 or younger. The team delved into the effects of seeing alcohol-related content on social media and the influence of such posts on these young users’ profiles.
Cheng’s findings indicated that young individuals exposed to such content were more inclined to consume alcohol and do so more often than those not exposed. Disturbingly, these exposures also correlated with hazardous drinking habits, such as binge drinking, which can have adverse effects on one’s physical and mental well-being.
“Not only are these platforms endorsing alcohol consumption, but they are also inadvertently motivating young users to indulge in risky drinking patterns,” Cheng emphasized.
Professor Jason Connor, the Director of the National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research, also weighed in on the issue. He pointed out the grave dangers associated with alcohol consumption for young people. “Alcohol stands as a primary contributor to unintentional injuries, self-inflicted harm, sexual assaults, overdoses, and even death in this age group,” he stated.
Given the extent of these alarming findings, Professor Connor firmly believes that regulations surrounding alcohol content on social media platforms need tightening. “The self-regulation approach of most platforms has been largely inefficient, complicating the implementation of any restrictions,” he remarked.
Connor also highlighted inconsistencies in age verification processes across these platforms. He urged the introduction of preventive strategies like stricter regulations, educational programs for youngsters and their guardians, and greater vigilance on underage and young adult drinking.
He concluded, “Such interventions are crucial if we aim to decrease the significant health implications linked to alcohol consumption, particularly among Australia’s most at-risk groups.”