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Social Networking Linked To Teen Drug, Alcohol Use?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Are teenagers who spend time on social networking web sites more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and use drugs? A recent Columbia University survey suggests it’s true.

The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse recently polled more than 2,000 teens either online or by phone, along with 528 parents of teens.

Results show that teens who visit such sites daily are five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to drink alcohol and twice as likely to use marijuana.

Twin Cities Psychologist Dr. David Walsh of Mind Positive Parenting says social networks don’t cause substance use, but they do provide a snapshot of the “average kid,” many of which are using drugs and alcohol.

“We should be talking to our kids about drinking and using drugs because it is a big public health issue and it is a big issue with our kids” said Walsh.

The study shows that 70 percent of teens spend some amount of time on social network websites each day, but Dr. Walsh believes that number is actually much higher.

“Most kids are on social networking sites and a lot of kids are using drugs and alcohol, probably at the same rate as the general population.”

Walsh says an interesting thing about the study would be to “take a look at kids who aren’t on a social networking site and see what those particular traits and characteristics are that correlate with low rates of alcohol or drug use.”

Walsh says perhaps the most productive result of this survey is that it should stimulate discussion between parents and their children.

WCCO’s Samantha Smith Interviews Dr. David Walsh

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