(CBS) - A recent study finds that teens on social networks are more likely to experiment with drinking alcohol and drugs.
But then again, teens have been doing drugs and drinking for years - way before the Internet was born, let alone social networks. Is it fair to assume that underage drinking and substance abuse is Facebook's fault?
It's not the social network sites themselves that encourage young, impressionable minds to drink and experiment with drugs. Rather, it's the images of intoxicated friends they've seen online that could reel them in.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York found that teens who spend time on Facebook, Myspace and other social networks are more prone to start drinking and doing drugs themselves after seeing images of their peers doing just that. Apparently, the images alone are enough to convince some youth that substance abuse is a normal thing, that everyone's doing it. It's a new form of peer pressure.
"Forty percent of the teens in CASA's survey said they have seen images of intoxicated kids, including some who are passed out, as well as pictures of peers using drugs," says WebMD.
In this study, Knowledge Networks surveyed 1,037 teens and 528 of their parents over the Internet, while QEV Analytics, Ltd. conducted the annual telephone survey of 1,006 teens .
"The results are profoundly troubling... the anything goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression, suggestive television programing and what-the-hell attitudes put teens at sharply increased risk of substance abuse," CASA Founder and Chairman Joseph Califano Jr. said in a statement reports Reuters.
Teens who have seen pictures of friends drunk, passed out or using drugs were twice as likely to think they would try drugs in the future, four times as likely to be able to get marijuana, three times as likely to get prescription drugs (without a prescription, that is) and twice as likely to get alcohol.
And out of those teens, 64 percent of the parents claim they monitor their children's social networking accounts.