Do Teenagers Prefer Social Media to Drugs and Alcohol?

If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing? A post over at Rolling Stone reports on a study that’s been monitoring drug and alcohol use by teenagers since 1975, and the study tells us that usage is the lowest it’s been since 1990. The story goes on to talk about why some researchers think that this is the case and social media seems to be at the top of some of their lists. As a relatively new father, I do my best to make sure that my 2-year-old isn’t turning into a bored, boring kid that’s hunched over his screens for double-digit hours each day, but the world is moving in that direction and I myself am sometimes guilty of being glued to my screens, so coming up with quick, easy answers is difficult. I know I’d much rather my son experiment with a few drugs and some booze in his teenage years than to be burning out the pleasure centers in his brain on social media, stressing out about the number of “likes” he gets for some stupid, meaningless picture on Instagram, but who the hell knows what kids will be into 12 or 13 years from now. Rock music, tobacco, and a little bit of drugs and alcohol were stimulants that I used in my teenage years to feel cool and connect with other kids, but it seems like those things have become obsolete with smartphones making social media available 24/7. We all know that things change and evolve and a lot of us are hyper-aware when any kind of “get off my lawn,” or “back in my day” comments come out of our mouths, but the massive amounts of screen time that kids are sucking up these days really does seem troubling. It’s pretty weird when a piece comes along that more or less romanticizes the days of higher teen drug use, but I understand the point. At least the drugs and alcohol usually led to some type of human interaction. Can’t really say the same for checking your social media accounts over 100 times per day.

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