Positive reinforcement from social networking sites can increase behaviors like binge drinking

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Newswise – Social media sites – for example, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook – that offer clear networking functions such as liking, sharing, commenting and sending personal messages with other users or “followers” are popular among young people. They have also become a privileged environment for the socialization of alcohol consumption among young people. These and other results will be shared at the 44eAnnual Scientific Meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), to be held virtually this year from 19e – 23e June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Socialization occurs when a person’s attitudes or behaviors are shaped by others,” says Tara Dumas, associate professor in the department of psychology at Huron University. “Considering the amount of time young people are spending online and how it has increased especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of peer socialization is done through social media / networking sites. ; people’s attitudes and behaviors are shaped by what they are exposed to and how their own content is responded to by others. In this study, we focus on the role of peer reinforcement in the form of positive feedback – likes and comments – on youth publications relating to alcohol as a socializing agent of risky drinking over time. time. Dumas will discuss these results at the RSA virtual meeting on June 20, 2021.

Dumas and his colleagues surveyed young American and Canadian adults aged 18 to 25 about their frequency of alcohol-related posts on Snapchat and Instagram – the two most common social networking sites (SNS) among young people – as well. than the average amount of positive comments on their alcohol-related posts and the degree of exposure to other people’s alcohol-related posts.

“The results suggest that peer review on social media plays an important role in predicting the increase in binge drinking among young people over time, and underscore the importance of focusing prevention efforts. on online peer building, ”said Dumas. “Social media socialization happens in different ways; it’s not just about what we are exposed to, but also how our own content is received by others.

Specifically, positive reinforcement on social media appears to affect the actual behavior of people outside of social media. “No matter how much alcohol-related content these young adults themselves posted or saw other people, receiving more likes and comments on their own alcohol-related content predicted a increase in excessive alcohol consumption over three months. This is truly the first study to suggest that this feedback predicts changes in risky drinking among young people. It is clear that this digital form of approval has a powerful effect on the attitudes and behaviors of young people.

Dumas cautioned that on social media what an individual pays attention to and comments on issues because it helps shape people’s behavior. “I hope this information will encourage users to realize that their behavior on these platforms is important,” she said. “I suggest that users ignore anything they don’t want to promote. For example, be careful when watching, like, or commenting on content that may reinforce risky behavior such as heavy drinking. .

On a related note, Dumas added that while Instagram’s recent decision to remove likes displayed publicly from people’s pages in Canada may have led teens to report that likes have become less valid when not publicly displayed. , this has also led to an increase in the importance of comments. essentially replacing the value of likes. “Additionally,” she added, “79% of our recent sample of teens said the change had failed to reduce the pressure to get positive reinforcement on Instagram and make their posts” worthy. ‘Insta.’ So, I doubt that removing likes posted publicly will have much influence on young people’s posting behavior and the overall impact of positive reinforcement on this site.


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