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  • Writer's pictureCyberdelegate Editorial Team

The Relation Between Social Media & Narcotics

Africa and India have the largest population of youths. Therefore, the regions must prioritize discussions and dialogue on social media and drug usage. Social Media is a platform for the sale of drugs. We as a society must ask relevant questions regarding a widely used platform. We must become aware of what social media companies are doing to tackle the issue. Popular influencers on Social Media have the power to steer the minds of the youth. They understand the phenomena from a psychological perspective. For Parents, Teachers, and Society, what role are they playing in securing their children's future? What does parenting mean in this digital age? We will find out in this article. After all, young people experimenting with drugs and alcohol is nothing new; however, social networking sites offer new and dangerous opportunities for adolescents to be exposed to drugs.

Teens are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of what they see on social media, as this age group is highly susceptible to peer influences and pressure. Sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat provide an environment where kids are exposed to famous and ordinary people engaging in risky behaviors involving drugs and alcohol. Celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Drake, and Cardi B consistently post pictures of themselves drinking and getting high on various platforms. That is starting to influence the young people that are viewing it. Additionally, adolescents are exposed to celebrities and influencers engaging in this behavior and their friends and families. This content normalizes and glamorizes behavior such as illicit and prescription drug use and binge drinking, making teens wrongly believe it is appropriate to do the same.

A study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that teenagers who regularly use popular social media outlets were more likely to drink, use drugs, and buy tobacco than adolescents who either did not use social media less frequently. The survey asked 2,000 adolescents about their drug use and social media habits, and 70% said they use Social Media on any given day. Researchers found that, compared to nonusers or infrequent users of social media, this group was:

  • Five times more likely to buy cigarettes

  • Three times more likely to drink

  • Two times as likely to use marijuana

In addition to drug exposure through marketing and advertising, Social Media is the catalyst for many mental health problems that can lead to substance abuse. Social Media perpetuates social comparison in a world where everything is curated, which is particularly problematic for teens more prone to depressive cognitions in the face of social comparison. Social media use is associated with mental health issues, including depression, sleep disturbance, and disordered eating among young people.

Rates of Teen Social Media Use

Social media use amongst teens is nearly universal today. About 92% of adolescent users report checking social networking sites more than once daily. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are young adults' top social media platforms.

Social Media Ads and #FOMO Can Lead to Drug Use

Young, impressionable people, they are seeing their friends and family in Facebook posts or Instagram pictures, and having fun while partying can tempt them to make risky choices to fit in. For others, it can depress them to the point that they turn to drugs or alcohol for solace.

Recent studies show that 75% of teenagers seeing photos on social networking sites of other young people smoking weed or drinking alcohol encourages them to experiment similarly.

Although drinking and smoking amongst teens have been an age-old issue, social media has begun to desensitize children to these activities at a younger age 90% of the kids surveyed saw these photos of their peers online before they were even 16 years old. Nearly half of all teens who have seen such pictures perceived that the kids in the images are having a good time. Teens who have come across these kinds of photos are four times more likely to have used marijuana and are three times more likely to have consumed alcohol than kids who have not viewed this type of picture.

In addition to being exposed to these acts by their peers, the ads found on social media can also encourage underage drinking and drug use. Tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and alcohol manufacturers have widely integrated social media platforms into marketing strategies that are fully accessible to teens. These industries can market to youth through social media advertising, even though direct marketing to minors is against the law.

Social Media Can Contribute to Poor Mental Health

Research has shown an undeniable link between social media use, adverse mental health, and low self-esteem, all of which can drive underage substance use. When teens struggle with emotional problems, they often turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism to help manage their complicated feelings. Frequently checking social media platforms and comparing oneself to others can make young people feel increasingly unhappy and isolated.

Social media can cause unhappiness and general dissatisfaction with life in users and increase the risk of developing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. An estimated 27% of children who spend three or more hours a day on social media exhibit miserable mental health symptoms. Kids who are depressed or suffer from anxiety (both often exacerbated by social media use) may then attempt to use alcohol or other drugs to cheer themselves up.

Therefore, it becomes our social responsibility to check the matter. We need to ask deep questions to dive into the solution. Solutions without proper research have led to where we are right now. However, we are hopeful that we will transform and devise a change and more robust defense against online harm.

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