Currently accepted at: JMIR Mental Health
Date Submitted: Jan 21, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: Jan 22, 2018 - May 29, 2018
Date Accepted: May 29, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Perceived Attitudes About Substance Use in Anonymous Social Media Posts Near College Campuses: Observational Study
Substance use is a major issue for adolescents and young adults, particularly college students. With the importance of peer influence and the ubiquitous use of social media among these age groups, it is important to assess what is discussed on various social media sites regarding substance use. One particular mobile app (Yik Yak) allowed users to post any message anonymously to nearby persons, often in areas with close proximity to major colleges and universities.
This study describes the content, including attitude toward substances, of social media discussions that occurred near college campuses and involved substances.
A total of 493 posts about drugs and alcohol on Yik Yak were reviewed and coded for their content, as well as the posterâ€™s attitude toward the substance(s) mentioned.
Alcohol (226/493, 45.8%), marijuana (206/493, 41.8%), and tobacco (67/493, 13%) were the most frequently mentioned substances. Posts about use (442/493) were generally positive toward the substance mentioned (262/442, 59.3%), unless the post was about abstinence from the substance. Additionally, posts that commented on the substance use of others tended to be less positive (18/92, 19.6% positive) compared to posts about oneâ€™s own use (132/202, 65.3% positive).
This study provides a description of anonymous discussions on or near college campuses about drugs and alcohol, which serves as an example of data that can be examined from social media sites for further research and prevention campaigns.
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