Facebook is great for so many things: ordering pizzas, picking up hookers, exchanging messages with underage kids, wishing death upon your students, and railing against gay marriage. But according to a new study, there's a dark underbelly to the social network: kids who regularly use it are more likely to do drugs! "The findings in this year's survey should strike Facebook fear into the hearts of parents of young children," said Joseph Califano, one of the researchers.
Let's forget for a moment that basically everyone (750 million active users) is on Facebook, and that over 50 percent of high schoolers are going to try drugs anyway (because they're kids)—Facebook is corrupting our children! Of the approximate 2,000 teens between the ages of 12 and 17 surveyed, 70 percent said they log in once a day. Kids who did were found to be five times more likely to buy tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol and two times more likely to use marijuana.
"The anything-goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression and suggestive television programming that teens are exposed to on a daily basis puts them at increased risk of substance abuse," said Joseph Califano, chairman of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at New York's Columbia University, which did the research. Califano argues that Facebook normalizes doing drugs and binge drinking...though we're not sure how that's any different than how rock and roll and celebrities have been glamorizing drugs for years.
Time Magazine rightly points out that Califano is an alarmist, arguing that the "research methods used here cannot actually determine whether social media causes increased substance use or whether the association is simply related to a third factor." Writer Maia Szalavitz compares the study with a similar one that found an inverse correlation between a penile length and a country's gross domestic product—"no one seriously believes that penis reduction will solve our economic problems."