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HBSC Netherlands: Electronic communication with friends and adolescent substance use

Adolescents spend many hours interacting with peers and many of these interactions take place using electronic media communication (EMC) in the virtual (online) world. Previous research has shown that EMC is associated with adolescent substance use. However, it remains unclear how the associations between EMC and substance use should be interpreted.

On the one hand, since adolescents use EMC primarily to interact and maintain relationships with already familiar offline peers, these associations may reflect already established associations between offline interactions and adolescent substance use. On the other hand, there may be unique associations of EMC with adolescent substance.

This study, titled 'Frequent electronic media communication with friends is associated with higher adolescent substance use', examined the unique associations of EMC with friends with adolescent substance use (tobacco, alcohol, cannabis), over and beyond the associations of offline face-to-face (FTF) interactions with friends.

The results showed that higher levels of EMC were associated with higher levels of adolescent substance use, predominantly for alcohol use. Furthermore, EMC strengthened some associations between FTF interactions and adolescent substance use. The effects can be explained in two ways. First, EMC is used to communicate with peers about where and when to meet and what to do offline. More EMC is thus associated with more FTF interactions and potentially more substance use, as adolescents often engage in substance use in the presence of peers. Second, EMC is often used to display engagement in substance use. These displays are often presented with a positive connotation and received by peers with positive feedback. Consequently, the perceived attractiveness of substance use may be enhanced and actual substance use may increase.

see here for further details
contact: Mr Joe Hancock

item 2714
[20-01-2015 to 01-04-2015]


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