Facebook, MySpace could identify college students at risk for problem drinking

Facebook, MySpace could identify college students at risk for problem drinking Washington, Oct 4 : A new study has found that social media websites, such as Facebook and MySpace, may reveal information that could help identify underage college students who may be at risk for problem drinking.

“One novel approach to identify college students who are at risk for problem drinking may be social networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook and MySpace,” the researchers said.

Megan A. Moreno, M. D., M. S. Ed., M. P. H., of the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and colleagues evaluated the associations between displayed alcohol use and intoxication/problem drinking (I/PD) on Facebook and self-reported problem drinking using the AUDIT clinical scale.

The authors included undergraduate students (ages 18-20 years) at two state universities who had public Facebook profiles in the study.

Of the Facebook profiles coded, 64.3 percent had no alcohol references displayed on the profile (nondisplayers), 19.6 percent had references to alcohol use (alcohol displayers), and 16.1 percent displayed references to intoxication or problem drinking (I/PD displayers).

It was also found that displayed alcohol references on Facebook were positively associated with being categorized as at-risk for problem drinking with 58.3 percent of I/PD displayers meeting criteria for at-risk problem drinking, compared with 37.8 percent of alcohol displayers and 22.6 percent of nondisplayers meeting this criteria.

“These study findings can be used for offering evidence-based guidance recommending that students who display references to I/PD on Facebook undergo clinical screening for problem alcohol use," the researchers concluded.

The study was published online by Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. (ANI)