How Media Use Affects Attitudes toward Marijuana Use

Jan 8, 2010

A market segment comprising the age bracket of 18 to 25 years are known as the most frequent users of social media sites, which includes Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, to name a few. Since this is the period in which most people gain more freedom both from college life and parental monitoring, they are likely are more inclined to pursue various mediums that provide entertainment and information perfectly suited to them. According to Cavazos-Rehg and her colleagues, social media provides this much needed environment for the American youths. It is reported that majority of American internet users are subscribe to social media sites. This group of users account for 72% of internet users within the United States (Cavazos-Rehg et al., 2014).  The authors also reported that 89% of the American internet users are young adults in the age bracket of 18 to 29 years old. 

The substantial influence on young adults’ attitude transformation can easily be perceived by the secretive nature of this group of internet users. For instance, Cavazos-Rehg’s research on the characterization of twitter followers and their comments on marijuana-related twitter handles revealed that teenage users of the internet are not pleased with the increasing number of adult subscribers of the same cites. Even though a single observation on people’s attitude may not be scientifically sufficient to make a general conclusion on social media subscribers’ attitude, it is an important pointer to the possible influence of social media on the users’ attitude. 

Both legal and illegal usage of Marijuana have solicited endless and controversial debates across the country in the recent years.   The debates have seen major attitude shifts among the entire American population with about 53% of the population supporting legalization of the drug while the 44% of the population are adamantly opposed to its legalization. Such statistics points to a very polarized society as a far as marijuana is concerned. Young members of this society are therefore expected to seek additional information before they can make up their minds on the benefits and the ills of marijuana.  The robustness and ubiquity of social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, make them the ready sources of information for the youths. 

In a research on the characterization of Twitter followers and their comments on marijuana related handles, Cavazos-Rehg and her colleagues used the term “infodemiology ” to highlight internet communication patterns and their effects on the online audience. The authors pointed out that communication patterns over social media have substantial contents on substance use. For instance, alcohol use was reported to have been referenced by about 83% of social networking websites subscribed to by college students within the United States. More abhorring is the report that about 39% of young Americans aged between 15 to 24 years have at least one social media friend with online pictures taken while smoking marijuana (Cavazos-Rehg et al., 2014). Evidence from such studies also indicates that there are greater impacts of the media contents on the attitude of younger groups of internet users.  

In line with the perceived influence of social media on young adults’ attitude on substance abuse, some government agencies have directed a number of their anti-drug companies towards the frequently visited social websites. Such aggressive strategies are very commendable, especially in the knowledge that one’s attitude about life is shaped to a greater extent by the events they encounter during the early years of their life. However, there is need for a comprehensive study on how social media depicts specific kinds of substance use and their influence on the American young adults, who are the majority audience.  

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