Adolescent Social Media Use Linked to Risky Behavior, Study RevealsSociety | November 30, 2023, Thursday // 15:50| views
A recently published study in BMJ has raised concerns about the impact of social media on the behavior of adolescents. Research findings suggest that young people who extensively use social media platforms are more likely to engage in a range of hazardous health behaviors, including increased alcohol, drug, and tobacco consumption, as well as involvement in antisocial conduct, risky sexual behavior, and gambling.
The study focused on the effects of exposure to risky health behavior content on social media, particularly advertisements promoting alcohol and unhealthy eating habits. The evidence pointed to a significant association between exposure to such content and an increase in risky behaviors among adolescents.
However, the researchers emphasized the need for further investigation to establish causation, understand how social media impacts health disparities, and identify the most detrimental aspects of social media use among young people.
The comprehensive analysis, involving over 1.4 million adolescents aged between 10 and 19 from 73 studies conducted between 1997 and 2022, revealed compelling evidence of the correlation between social media usage and risky health behaviors. While most studies were conducted in high-income countries, the researchers applied a recognized assessment system to determine the certainty of evidence.
The study uncovered that exposure to risky health behavior content on social media, especially concerning unhealthy eating and alcohol use, had the strongest evidence of contributing to risky behavior. Furthermore, spending more than two hours daily on social media appeared to double the odds of alcohol consumption compared to less usage time.
Despite the robustness of the study, the researchers acknowledged limitations. They highlighted that reliance on personal recall in most social media measures might have affected the accuracy of the findings. Additionally, unmeasured factors, such as parental health risk behaviors, could have influenced the results.
The researchers concluded that while experimental behavior is natural during adolescence, precautionary measures across academic, governmental, health, and educational sectors are essential as understanding the complete risks associated with adolescents' social media use continues to evolve.
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