Research & Resources

Do You ‘Like’ Problems? The Linkage Between College Students’ Interactions with Alcohol-Related Content on Social Media and Their Alcohol-Related Problems

This study explored the link between drinking motives and alcohol-related content (ARC) on social media, specifically content posted by alcohol companies and celebrities, as it relates to alcohol-related problems among college students. Students from two U.S. universities completed a cross-sectional online survey assessing demographics, drinking motives, their following/awareness of alcohol company ARC, engagement with celebrity ARC, peak drinks (most drinks consumed on one occasion), and alcohol-related problems (e.g., passed out). Greater following/awareness of celebrity ARC was linked to coping, enhancement, and conformity motives, as well as a higher number of peak drinks. Frequent engagement with celebrity ARC was associated with a greater frequency of passing out. Survey responses showed a link between following celebrity ARC, experiencing alcohol-related problems through coping and conformity motives, and having a high number of peak drinks. After adjusting for the influence of celebrity ARC, no significant pathways were found between alcohol company ARC and any of the drinking motives, number of peak drinks, or frequency of alcohol-related problems. The results suggest that students who engage with celebrity ARC experience problems due to coping and conformity motives, and also have a higher number of peak drinks. Researchers proposed that interventions targeting alcohol cognitions could assess engagement with and exposure to different sources of ARC given their potential to influence alcohol-related problems.

This paper, “Do you ‘like’ problems? The linkage between college students’ interactions with alcohol-related content on social media and their alcohol-related problems,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published in the journal Drug and alcohol review.

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