A recent study has brought attention to a worrying correlation between excessive social media use among adolescents and the propensity for risky decision-making, potentially endangering their lives. Given the widespread usage of platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and others, the impact of these digital platforms on young people is extensive and far-reaching.
Social media usage popular among teenagers
Social media has become an integral part of modern communication, particularly among teenagers. It offers more than just a means of staying connected; it provides a sense of freedom and belonging. The World Health Organization acknowledges its influence in promoting health, highlighting its ability to foster healthy lifestyles, provide access to health information, and offer emotional support.
Regular social media use among young children and teenagers has been associated with risky health behaviors, according to researchers from the University of Glasgow. These behaviors include increased underage drinking, smoking, drug use, unsafe sexual behaviors, and gambling.
Factors contributing to increased social media usage include intensified peer pressure, the displacement of physical interaction, and the influence of online content. Poor health choices made during adolescence can have long-term consequences such as substance dependency, depression, and chronic health problems.
Social media exposure promotes risky behaviors
A study analyzing data from 1.4 million adolescents revealed that exposure to social media content promoting risky activities, particularly alcohol advertisements, had the most significant negative impact on behavior. This included increased alcohol consumption and unhealthy eating habits.
Extended social media use, particularly two hours or more daily, heightens the risk of substance abuse in youths. A study in The BMJ reveals that spending a minimum of two hours daily on social media doubles the likelihood of alcohol consumption compared to shorter usage. Furthermore, frequent or daily social media engagement raises the probability of alcohol consumption by 48%, drug use by 28%, and tobacco use by 85%, when compared to infrequent or non-daily users.
Frequent social media engagement correlates with a 77% increase in risky sexual behaviors and a 73% rise in antisocial activities. Users are nearly three times more likely to engage in gambling compared to infrequent or non-daily users.