According to a study published in the upcoming May issue of Computers in Human Behavior, a scholarly journal focused on the use of computers from a psychological perspective, there is a strong link between Facebook use, alcohol abuse and anxiety levels. The study, conducted via a master’s thesis project by a student at the Missouri School of Journalism, surveyed more than 225 college freshman to determine levels of emotional connection with Facebook. The study looked at anxiety and loneliness in relation to marijuana and alcohol use and found that students with higher levels of both anxiety and alcohol use felt a stronger emotional connection to Facebook.
It’s worth noting that students who engage heavily in Facebook are likely exposed to pictures of friends drinking alcohol and partying, which could subsequently influence their higher levels of alcohol use. However, it’s unclear at what point Facebook enters the picture so students could already be engaging in these behaviors prior to developing an emotional connection with the social networking site. One the other hand, students who reported high levels of loneliness and marijuana use felt disconnected from the site – possibly because marijuana use is not as widely accepted, so students are less likely to see photos and status updates reflecting their personal experiences.
Students are easily influenced by the behavior of those around them, and social networking makes it exponentially easier to access information about the activities preferred by peers. It is certainly possible that higher levels of anxiety are a result of a student’s need to fit in, particularly when they place a higher value on Facebook and the activity associated with it. This could result in binge drinking, alcohol abuse and other issues like drug abuse. It’s important to discuss these issues openly with college students and other young adults to help them make healthy decisions now and in the future.
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