Introduction: The influence peers have on other students is enormous; being so far from home and the first time being alone, most students just want to fit in. Partying in college has led to many DUIs, pregnancy and in severe cases death. How does social media influence college students?
Boyle’s article in Addictive Behaviors starts with the issue of how drinking and partying have become normalized in the college scene. According to Boyle and his colleagues, young-adult users appear to help influence alcohol use of first-year students. Boyle’s recent research suggests new students arriving on campus may be likely to turn to social media sites to learn the norms for acceptable behavior at their university including norms related to alcohol and drug use. Research also indicates that college-bound high school students drink less than their non–college-bound peers. This can change relatively quickly, as college students drink incredibly more than their peers not enrolled in college immediately following high school. Erevik, the author of Who is watching user-generated alcohol posts on social media, agrees with Boyle. He states that around 20% of adolescents reported to have at least one friend on social media that has posted a picture of a party. This same group of students later went on to say that they themselves on average only post one to two alcohol related pictures a month. Another article posted in Addictive Behaviors by Groth also agreed that first-year college students are the most likely to be influenced. His team found, around 80% of all college students drink, 44% have binge drank, and over 65% have reported they did not drink before starting college.
How popular are these posts?“ Party at my place!” or “BYOB! Party starts at 10!” are just some of the comments a student may find on a post advertising a good time. Groth addresses this by saying, among the participants enrolled in college, 60–85% of their profiles include alcohol-related content. Groth’s study concluded, participants who have friends that use marijuana have 27% greater odds of using marijuana themselves. Maria Roditis, the author of Perceptions of social norms and exposure to pro-marijuana messages are associated with adolescent marijuana us, agreed with Groth but took it further and wrote about how other than alcohol people also promote marijuana use and risky sexual behavior. Her team found on Twitter alone about 16,666 alcohol or drug related Tweets are posted each hour. They also found, social media is the main venue for sharing marijuana-related information particularly among college students. Between 2012 and 2013, more adolescents than adults tweeted about marijuana, with most of these tweets having positive attitudes about marijuana.
During the study two specific questions asked, have you ever seen a message/image posted on social media about [the risks or bad things/benefits or good things] related to using marijuana or alcohol? and have you ever posted a message/image on social media about [the risks or bad things; the benefits or good things] related to using marijuana or alcohol? These two questions provided the most information for Roditis; both answering that more than 50% of the participating students have seen and posted a message/image themselves. Back to Boyle, his team found Snapchat and Instagram are the most common SMS to find young-adult users; over 90% of college students use social media and many post images or messages documenting engagement in risky behaviors. Snapchat’s greater privacy and unique ten second disappearing-post feature may make it the preferred destination for student’s incriminating and embarrassing images alcohol-related consequences. This could be tempting to send incriminating photos especially when pictures and videos have time limits of ten seconds.
Going against Boyle, Marczinski, from Addiction Research & Theory, didn’t say anything about Snapchat or Instagram but looked at Facebook to write this,“a study only including underage college students with publicly available Facebook profiles, found all of them being underage may partially explain why the participants failed to see the implications of posting about underage drinking in the public domain” (399). This means Marczinski and her teams found that teens underage are either not drinking or they are being aware of their future and not posting pictures to incriminate themselves. How frequent do students go on social media sites?
Conclusion: To answer the question, I don’t think just college influences students to start drinking but I do think it encourages them to drink more than they usually would. I do think social media plays a big part in it though, you see other friends drinking and partying and you think, “what’s the worst that’s going to happen?” or “one drink won’t hurt”. This mentality is what gets people not only into alcohol but into drugs and other risky behavior. Going on after this, few studies have examined adolescents’ beliefs about specific risks; few studies have examined relationships among adolescents’ perceptions, social acceptability, awareness of social media and actual use of alcohol and marijuana. They say if a friend is telling you a drug or a drink is good and worth trying, you would more than likely try it, wouldn’t you? To conclude, if you are going to drink whether it be in college or not, do it with people you trust in a safe place.
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