Social media photos of substance use and their relationship to attitudes and behaviors among ethnic and racial minority emerging adult men living in low-income areas

Carolyn Lauckner, Alethea Desrosiers, Jessica Muilenburg, Abraham Killanin, Elizabeth Genter, Trace Kershaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Emerging adult minority males have inequitable negative consequences from substance abuse. They are also frequent users of social media, logging into popular sites up to 25 times per week on average, so there may be opportunities to use these technologies for better understanding and preventing substance use behaviors. Through mobile phone monitoring, this study examined how social media sites are used to post substance use-related images and how posting such images is related to behaviors and attitudes. It also explored how self-presentation of masculinity norms, such as coolness and toughness, was related to posting of substance use-related photos. Methods: Instagram and/or Twitter posts of 65 minority males aged 18–25 living in low-income areas were monitored for three months using phone tracking software. Over 2200 posted images were content analyzed to determine if they were related to alcohol or marijuana and if they displayed masculinity norms. Behavioral interviewing was also used to examine alcohol and marijuana attitudes, use, and problematic use. Analyses utilized t-tests and multiple and logistic regression. Results: Many participants posted at least one substance use-related photo and a strong majority were exposed to such images through their network. Individuals who posted substance use-related images had more “followers.” Posting substance-use related photos was related to marijuana use attitudes, behaviors, and problem behaviors, as well as depictions of toughness in photos. Conclusions: Social media monitoring has potential for use in identifying individuals at-risk for substance abuse and those who may be perpetuating unhealthy substance use norms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-162
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Volume77
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health under grant R21DA031146 (PI=Kershaw), and from the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS ( 5P30MH062294 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents

Keywords

  • Alcohol
  • Emerging adults
  • Marijuana
  • Social networking
  • mobile phones

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Social media photos of substance use and their relationship to attitudes and behaviors among ethnic and racial minority emerging adult men living in low-income areas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this