Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs vol:78 issue:1 pages:124-133
Objective: The current study is one of the first to examine how self-reported alcohol consumption, friends’ perceived alcohol consumption and the perceived number of friends sharing alcohol references on social networking sites (SNS) is associated with adolescents’ sharing of alcohol references on SNS. Method: A cross-sectional paper-and-pencil survey was administered among 3172 adolescents (Mage=17.16, SD=.93; 50% girls). Structural equation modeling was used to test the hypotheses. Results: First, the results indicated that both self-reported drinking behavior and the perceived number of friends sharing alcohol references, were related to sharing alcohol references on SNS, but the perceived number of friends sharing alcohol references was a stronger predictor than self-reported drinking behavior. Friends’ perceived drinking behavior was not a significant predictor. In the second place, self-reported drinking behavior was a stronger predictor for girls than for boys, whereas the perceived number of friends sharing alcohol references was a stronger predictor for boys than for girls. Conclusion: Adolescents’ alcohol-related self-representation is in line with their alcohol consumption, and is also strongly related to what their friends are sharing. Thus, adolescents appear to communicate authentically about their drinking experiences, but the decision to do so is heavily influenced by the prevailing social norm regarding alcohol-related communication.