A New Kind of Peer Pressure That Is Fueling Addiction

teens using social media

There is a new kind of peer pressure that teens are faced with today. It is appropriately referred to as digital peer pressure. Social networks such as Myspace, Twitter and Facebook have become so popular that nearly every teen holds accounts with at least one of these websites.

Parents may be surprised to hear what their teens are talking about through the use of these networks. In fact, a recent study of more than 10 million online messages, composed by teens within the past year, showed that they commonly talk about partying, using drugs, drinking alcohol and hooking up.

Another recent survey taken by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University showed that 75 percent of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 years old admitted that viewing pictures of other kids partying on the Internet increased their curiosity of using drugs or alcohol. Almost half of the nearly 11 million teens surveyed agreed that it seemed like the people in these pictures were enjoying themselves. It was also found that kids who viewed these types of pictures were four times more likely to have used marijuana, three times more likely to have used alcohol and almost three times more likely to have used cigarettes.

For high school kids, there may be a lot of attention that comes as a result of using partying. When teens post pictures of themselves or friends using drugs or alcohol on these types of websites, they are usually followed by dozens of “Likes” and comments about how much fun that particular night was or how drunk so and so was. With all of this “positive” attention from their peers, it is no wonder why some teens might find using drugs and alcohol as the “in” thing to do.

What Can Be Done To Avoid Digital Peer Pressure

Monitoring your child’s use of the Internet is a good way to keep tabs on them and make sure that they aren’t becoming involved with drugs or the wrong crowd. Get involved in your teen’s life. Know who their friends are and what they’re doing. Encourage your kids to participate in extracurricular activities that keep them productive and motivated. By taking these measures it is sure to help teens make good decisions for themselves and become less affected by digital peer pressure.

Many parents make the false assumption that sending their children away to boarding schools or private schools will safeguard them from being exposed to drugs, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case. In fact, this same survey shows a 50 percent increase in drug use among teens that attended private high schools within the past year. Most likely, the best method of prevention is through education and good communication.

By creating a good relationship with your teen he/she can easily communicate with you about topics such as drug use and peer pressure. Talk with your children about the dangers of using drugs and alcohol. They just might not be aware of the risks they are taking when consuming these substances.

A family can even get together and talk over:

1. What drugs are and their effects.
2. The dangers of drugs and how addiction begins.
3. The problems that addiction causes.
4. How to avoid digital peer pressure and say no to using.
5. How to help loved ones or friends who have fallen into the trap of addiction.

With this kind of communication, family members can have more control when drugs do come into their lives and learn how to positively solve the problem.




Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.