May 24, 2013

Facebook Activity Can Reveal Alcoholic Tendencies

Study researchers from Seattle Children’s Research Institute wanted to correlate alcoholic dependency and social media. Basically, they wanted to know if they could find out if someone would become an alcoholic by what they read on their Facebook profile.

Turns out, they can.

The researchers decided to target college freshmen because they are instantly exposed to the pressures of drinking. They examined Facebook accounts of these students to look for early signs of alcoholism. They then had students take the Alcohol Use Disorder ID Test (AUDIT) and discovered that out of 338 students, 22 of them showed clear signs of alcohol dependency. One third of the students talk openly on Facebook about alcohol.

By the end of the study, all but three of the students talk about alcohol on Facebook and more than half talk about being drunk.

“To me, this is amazing,” Megan Pumper – a member of the research team said in an interview with Komo News. Later, Pumper wrote in a blog post. “If we could help people discover their dependence issues by using clues from Facebook, maybe we can help them sooner and more adequately acknowledge that they may have a problem and maybe we could plan interventions via the site.”

Other facts to note:

  • Participants were 100% aware that their Facebook profiles were being monitored for an alcoholism study. Yet they still talked about alcohol, being drunk, etc. Researchers feel that this makes Facebook and other popular social media platforms an almost accurate basis for reality…at least with college students who like to party.
  • Researchers intend to continue the study for three years.
  • Researchers are keeping in mind that some of the posts could be a wild exaggeration as a bid for attention or popularity
  • Keeping an eye on Facebook posts may be a way for parents and loved ones to help identify youth who need help with alcohol dependency before they spiral out of control

“If someone is dependent, it is likely references to alcohol will show up on their profiles … College students are hard to reach, so we should use tools like Facebook to try to help them,” Pumper told Komo News.

 

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