Youth exposure to alcohol marketing has been linked to increased alcohol consumption and problems. On relatively new and highly interactive social networking sites (SNS) that are popular with youth, tools for measuring youth exposure to alcohol marketing in traditional media are inadequate. We critically review the existing policies of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube designed to keep branded alcohol content away from underage youth. Looking at brand and user activity on Facebook for the 15 alcohol brands most popular among US youth, we found activity has grown dramatically in the past 3 years, and underage users may be accounting for some of this activity. Surveys of youth and adult participation in alcohol marketing on SNS will be needed to inform debate over these marketing practices.

The present study examined the impact of socially based descriptive norms on willingness to drink alcohol, drinker prototype favorability, affective alcohol attitudes, and perceived vulnerability for alcohol-related consequences within the Prototype Willingness model. Descriptive norms were manipulated by having 189 young adolescents view experimenter-created profile pages from the social networking site Facebook, which either showed older peers drinking or not. The results provided evidence that descriptive norms for alcohol use, as portrayed by Facebook profiles, significantly impact willingness to use, prototypes, attitudes toward use, and perceived vulnerability. A multiple mediation analysis indicated that prototypes, attitudes, and perceptions of use mediated the relationship between the content of the Facebook profile and willingness. These results indicate that adolescents who perceive that alcohol use is normative, as evidenced by Facebook profiles, are at higher risk for cognitions shown to predict alcohol use than adolescents who do not see alcohol use portrayed as frequently on Facebook.

Page 2 of 2

Disclaimer

The authors have taken reasonable care in ensuring the accuracy of the information herein at the time of publication and are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Read more on our disclaimer and Privacy Policy.