Booze boasting on Facebook sways teen drinking
Source: The Spirits Business
by Annie Hayes
26th May, 2015
Pictures and status updates on Facebook which exaggerate users’ drinking habits influence students to drink more, according to a new study.
Research by the University of Sydney found Facebook profiles that exaggerate the user’s drinking habits are promoting “binge drinking” among students.
The study revealed young people believe their peers are drinking more alcohol than they actually are, and by correcting these misconceptions “hazardous” drinking can drop by 50%.
Researchers asked 244 university students to complete a survey about their drinking habits during a normal week.
From this group, 98 of students were deemed “hazardous” drinkers, and were sent a message to inform them of their results.
When they were asked how much they believe their peers were drinking during a week, many estimated an average of six standard beverages per week.
However, the research found that 84% of students who drink enjoy this amount of drinks around once every month.
“The more drinking is depicted as socially desirable on Facebook, the more it perpetuates an online culture that normalises binge drinking,” said Dr Ridout from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences.
“The truth is that most young people who drink usually do not do so at risky levels.”
A one month and three month follow-up questionnaire was issued to the “hazardous” users, and on average they had halved their alcohol consumption from 40 drinks per month to 20 drinks on average.
Dr Ridout added: “Evidence shows correcting inflated perceptions of how much their peers drink can have a big influence on young peoples’ behaviour.
“The Facebook intervention resulted in a reported 50% reduction in alcohol consumption, and these changes were still sustained three months later.”
A similar study conducted in Michigan State University earlier this year found the more students engaged with alcohol posts and pages on social media, the greater their desire was to drink alcohol.