At this point, most people have a general knowledge of social media and many people have accounts of their own that allow them to connect with past friends and colleagues. Social media is a great resource that has many positives, but what about the unintended negative consequences? Specifically, the role of Social Media Promoting Alcohol and drugs. I know this is no shock, but social media is extremely popular with younger generations, namely middle and high school teens that share every single thing they do. They connect with friends of friends, creating relationships that sometimes exist purely behind a computer screen, tablet or smartphone. With the continued emergence of social media, it is no longer just about who they physically hang out with – impairing the previous popular notion of “knowing who your kids are hanging out with.” Now, the “friends” and “followers” they keep on their social media accounts can become primary influencers. Sure, the Internet is an open range of alcohol and drug influences, but social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter concentrate alcohol and drug influences into one location that some kids spend most of their time searching and seeking for approval and relevance.
Unfortunately, this can magnify the glorification of drugs and alcohol, pushing the epidemic of abuse and addiction to an even earlier age. Theoretically, a 16-year-old kid could be friends with their older brother’s college friend, which could possibly mean photos of parties with alcohol flowing and possibly drug use. Many of us went to college and know the reality. While that person may be of legal age to consume alcohol that concept doesn’t translate to a high school sophomore who wants to emulate the activities they see as ‘cool.’ While drugs are a different story, the concept is the same. The desire to be older and act like what you see and perceive as popular is nothing new, but social media has amplified this reaction. Unfortunately, it is realistic that are kids that are your child’s age in middle or high school that have posts about drugs or alcohol, also influencing your child. It’s sad – but it is the reality.
So how do we combat against this? Try to be active and involved in kids’ lives. Pay attention to their social media profiles and talk to them about posts that seem inappropriate or refer to drugs or alcohol. Some parents ask for their child’s passwords or make sure that they are able to see everything they post. You really have to find what works best for your family, but don’t be absent when it comes to your child’s social media presence and drug and alcohol influences. With that said, there are more social media channels than I can name and explain in this post, meaning that it is really hard to know absolutely everywhere your child has an online presence. This is where the concepts of education and open communication and key.
What works best for you when working with your child and their social media influences of drugs and alcohol?