Media are ubiquitous in the lives of youth and are a primary source of learning about substance use. Teens ages 13-18 spend almost 9 hours with media, and this consistently exposes them to media messages about products that are illegal for youth to purchase and consume. These messages aren’t incidental either; there is substantial evidence that alcohol and tobacco companies target youth with their marketing.
A recent example is the youth-oriented marketing of e-cigarettes (e.g., JUUL) which offer products in styles and flavors that appeal to youth. Social media messages from advertisers and peers can normalize or encourage drug use, which is especially troubling because 70% of teens report using social media multiple times a day. A recent study found that greater exposure to pro-alcohol and pro-marijuana messages on Twitter was significantly correlated with heavy episodic drinking and marijuana use, and social media exposure to e-cig ads is associated with positive expectations for smoking experiences.
Many forms of entertainment media show substance use in fun and consequence-free situations, and the causal link between pro-substance use media and youth substance use is well-documented.