The social media era is upon us and everyone always seems to have a device of some sort in their hands. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the others, three out of four Americans use at least one social networking site2. Social media accounts help us to make connections all over the world with a variety of different people. They allow us to talk with friends and family that may be hours away or just down the hall from us.
Social media is known to be a source for updating users on news, discussions, and most famously talking about opinions and feelings. There is, however, a dark side to this social media world. It harvests all kinds of ads and comments on drugs and alcohol. One study was able to conclude that social media users talk about the opioid epidemic on a variety of topics; how to abuse opioids, where to buy opioids, the social impact of opioid abuse and opioid withdrawal4. On the flip side, there are also many social media accounts on the internet that are trying to increase knowledge and spread information on substance use. There is so much information available to us at just a click of a button. Information is power and social media has the ability to give us that information quickly, but at what cost? There are many pros and cons to the social media world, below are just a few:
| Pros: |
· It allows teens to stay informed on current events and technology1.
· It is easier to study and carry out research1.
· It can boost self-esteem1.
· It keeps teens connected to friends and family5.
· It can make them feel less alone or isolated5.
· It allows teens to share ideas and explore their creative sides5.
| Cons: |
· Teens can be exposed to cyberbullyng, depression and other mental health issues1.
· It can decrease productivity levels1.
· It can destroy social skills and self-esteem1.
· It can lead to the sharing of too much information1.
· There have been reports of social media being used as a strategy for selling drugs3.
· Teens are exposed to tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and alcohol ads from industry and posts about substances by their friends3.
The internet has allowed us to have so much ease with research and connectivity, but with the development of social media platforms, it has opened the doors for exposure to topics like substance use. It can either glorify substance use, or help to inform us on the dangers of them. Parents, take the time to discuss the dangers of social media and set limits on its use with your teens.
1. Austin, K.. (2016). The Pros and cons of teens on Social media. PhoneSheriff. 23 June 2016. http://www.phonesheriff.com/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-teens-on-social-media/
2. Chary, M., Genes, N., Giraud-Carrier, C., Hanson, C., Nelson, L., Manini, A., (2017). Epidemiology from Tweets: Estimating Misuse of Prescription Opioids in USA from Social Media. Journal of Medical Toxicology. December 2017, 13(4), 278-286. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5711756/
3. Costello, C., Ramo, D. (2017). Social Media and Substance Use: What Should We Be Recommending to Teens and Their Parents? Journal of Adolescent Health. 60 (2017) 629-630. https://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(17)30158-1/pdf
4. Pandrekar, S., Chen, X., Gopalkrishna, G., Srivastava, A., Saltz, M., Saltz, J., & Wang, F. (2018). Social Media Based Analysis of Opioid Epidemic Using Reddit. AMIA. Annual Symposium proceedings. AMIA Symposium, December 2018, 867–876. https://ww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371364/
5. TISPY. 7 Pros and Cons of Social Media for Teens and How Parents Can Monitor It. TISPY: Parental Monitoring Software. https://tispy.net/blog/pros-cons-of-social-media-for-teens