Frequent or daily social media use is linked to higher odds of alcohol consumption (48%), drug use (28%), and tobacco use (85%) compared to infrequent use. Additionally, risky sexual behaviours, anti-social conduct, and increased gambling odds were identified as potential consequences of regular social media engagement.
In a recent review published by The BMJ, researchers analysis, spanning studies from 1997 to 2022 and involving 1.4 million adolescents, sheds light on concerning trends.
RISKY HEALTH BEHAVIOR
Of particular concern is the exposure to risky health behaviour content on social media, with alcohol advertising demonstrating the strongest evidence of harm, especially in relation to alcohol use and unhealthy eating. The study emphasizes the need for further research to establish causality, understand effects on health inequalities, and identify the specific aspects of social media that pose the most significant risks.
“However, as safeguards for a digital world are still evolving, precaution across academic, governmental, health and educational sectors may be warranted before the risks of adolescents’ use of social media is fully understood.”
While acknowledging the evolving role of socialmedia as a platform for health promotion, the researchers urge caution among academic, governmental, health, and educational sectors. They emphasize the ongoing evolution of safeguards in the digital landscape and advocate for precautionary measures until the risks associated with adolescents’ use of socialmedia are fully comprehended.
This review, based on a meticulous analysis of over 250 socialmedia measures, signifies a crucial step in understanding the intricate relationship between socialmedia and adolescent health behaviours. Despite potential limitations in recall measures, the researchers have crafted a comprehensive and well-designed review, highlighting the need for continued vigilance in navigating the digital world’s impact on the health of the younger generation.