The study conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) found that the size of one's online network of friends was not significantly associated with risky behavior but their exposure to friends' online pictures of partying or drinking was significantly associated with both smoking and alcohol use.
Teens whose close friends did not drink alcohol were more likely to be affected by increasing exposure to risky online pictures
The study's principal investigator Thomas W. Valente said it is the first study to apply social network analysis methods to examine how teenagers' activities on online social networking sites influence their smoking and alcohol use.
The survey was conducted on 1,563 10th-grade students in Los Angeles County about their online and offline friendship networks and the frequency of their social media use, smoking and alcohol consumption.
Co-researcher Grace C. Huang said that the evidence suggests that friends' online behaviors are a viable source of peer influence adding that 95 percent of 12 to 17 year olds in the United States access the Internet every day, and 80 percent of those youth use online social networking sites to communicate.
It was found that while Facebook use did not seem to affect smoking or drinking, higher levels of Myspace use was associated with higher levels of drinking.
--ANI (Posted on 04-09-2013)