|Photo by Laura Stample for The Huffington Post|
Excerpted from the Huffington Post
Is Facebook the new gateway drug?
Teens who use Facebook and other social media outlets are five times more likely to smoke cigarettes, three times more likely to drink alcohol and twice as likely to smoke pot than teens that don't use social networks, according to a study released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University on Wednesday.
But some researchers questioned whether online activity actually puts teens at risk for drug use, saying the link between the two behaviors doesn't suggest social media use encourages drug use.
After surveying 500 parents and 2,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17, CASA found that 70 percent of teens spend time on some form of social media, which suggests that around 17 million of the country's teens are using social networks.
Half of those teens see pictures of kids drunk, passed out or using drugs while on these sites, CASA found. Kids who don't use social media can still be exposed to these sorts of pictures, but it is a lot less likely. According to the study, 14 percent of the teens who spend no time on Facebook and the other similar sites have also been exposed to pictures of drunk or drugged peers.
"The relationship of social networking site images of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs ... to increased teen risk of substance abuse offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words," CASA's chairman and founder Joseph Califano Jr. said in a press release.