According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, approximately 70% of the 17 million teenagers aged 12 to 17 years old are spending too much time on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace, and this habit increases the risk of drugs and alcohol abuse among their population.
In the survey conducted, results showed that teens who are into social networking could be five times more likely to smoke cigarettes, three times more likely to consume alcohol, and two times more likely to use pot compared to teens who do not spend time on these social sites.
CASA Founder and Chairman Joseph Califano Jr. said the results of the study should concern parents the most. “The results are profoundly troubling … the anything goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression, suggestive television programing and what-the-hell attitudes put teens at sharply increased risk of substance abuse.”
In social networking, teens have the freedom to see pictures of other members and among these pictures are those that explicitly show teens and adults drunk and passed out or using illegal drugs.
As a result, some teens get the wrong idea and they could get into dangerous habits, such as smoking marijuana, prescription drugs abuse, or alcohol use.
Almost nine out of ten parents don’t think that social networking cause any real harm to their kids and that only 64% of them monitor their kids’ use of the Internet.
The authors of the study are reminding parents to be concerned of their children and their Internet activities. After all, parents are still the most influential individuals in a teen’s decision regarding substance abuse. They also called upon the attention of social networking sites to regulate posts of users so as not to give the wrong message to their adolescent clients.
“Continuing to provide the electronic vehicle for transmitting such images constitutes electronic child abuse,” they said.