Time spent on social media and alcohol use among adolescents: A longitudinal study

Addict Behav. 2022 Jul:130:107294. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2022.107294. Epub 2022 Feb 24.


Background and aims: Research into the association between use of social media (SoMe) and alcohol use among adolescents is still in its infancy. The aim of the current longitudinal study was to examine if time spent on SoMe was prospectively associated with alcohol use among adolescents, and whether these associations differed for boys and girls.

Design: Prospective cohort study among Norwegian adolescents who completed e-questionnaires in the autumn of 2017 (t1), 2018 (t2), 2019 (t3) and 2020 (t4).

Setting: Norway.

Participants: A nation-wide sample of N = 3096 adolescents (mean age at t1: 14.3 years (SD = 0.85), 43% boys).

Measurements: Self-report data were collected on adolescents' alcohol use, time spent on SoMe, parental monitoring, sensation-seeking, and positive and negative urgency, gender, and age.

Findings: Latent growth modelling adjusted for time invariant covariates (i.e., parental monitoring, sensation-seeking, and positive and negative urgency at t1) showed a positive association between time spent on SoMe and alcohol use at the start of the study; standardized b (β) = 0.17 (95% CI: 0.09, 0.26). Time spent on SoMe at t1 was a strong positive predictor of increase in alcohol use β = 0.31 (95% CI: 0.23, 0.40). There was also an association between degree of increase in alcohol use and increase in time on SoMe, β = 0.14 (95% CI: 0.05, 0.24). Subsequent multigroup analysis found little evidence for gender differences (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: The more time Norwegian adolescents aged 13-15 years spend on SoMe, the greater is their subsequent increase in alcohol use over time.

Keywords: Adolescence; Alcohol; Longitudinal; Social media; Youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Media*
  • Underage Drinking*