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Teen Drinking, Smoking Higher Among Facebook Users: Survey
Date:8/24/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. teens who use social networking sites and watch "suggestive" TV shows are more likely to use drugs and alcohol than teens with little exposure to such media, a new survey found.

The survey included more than 1,000 youths from around the nation aged 12 to 17 and about half of their parents. On a typical day, about 70 percent of teens said they used social networking sites.

Social network users were five times more likely to report using tobacco (10 percent versus 2 percent), three times more likely to say they used alcohol (26 percent versus 9 percent) and twice as likely to admit using marijuana (13 percent versus 7 percent).

Researchers said the association held even when accounting for the age of the teens. For example, about 20 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds who regularly used social networking sites reported trying marijuana compared to 11 percent of kids who did not use social networking sites regularly.

About one-third of teens also said they regularly watch teen TV shows such as "Jersey Shore," "16 and Pregnant," "Skins" and "Gossip Girl."

Regular viewers of any of those programs were about twice as likely to use tobacco or alcohol, according to the survey, commissioned by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in New York City.

"The results are profoundly troubling," the authors wrote in the report, released Aug. 24. "This year's survey reveals how the anything goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression [and] suggestive television programming ... put teens at sharply increased risk of substance abuse."

But the survey doesn't prove that watching "Jersey Shore" or spending time on Facebook leads to substance abuse, only that kids who watch those shows and use social networking sites are more likely to report smoking or alcohol use, said Michael Gilbert, a
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