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Study will explore social media's influence on college drinking

October 13, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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“Social norms” theory states that young people's drinking behavior often is governed by their tendency to overestimate how much alcohol their peers use. A new research initiative at the University of Houston will explore how this phenomenon is playing out in the age of social media.

Mai-Ly Nguyen Steers, a postdoctoral fellow at the university, and colleagues will study how social media (mainly Facebook) shapes college students' drinking habits. Since people tend to select social media friends with like-minded perspectives, it is likely that they will end up sharing similar posts about drinking that could influence behaviors.

“We are swayed by what we see and post on social media in more ways than we realize,” Steers said in an Oct. 10 news release.

The findings of the five-year research project, supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), will be used to develop a personalized intervention that will use social media to reduce alcohol use among heavy-drinking college students.