Compared to previous generations, today’s teens are drinking less, smoking less and I believe that social media is one of the biggest factors.
Social media plays a role in the drop of alcohol consumption among American teenagers. Before the internet existed, teenagers often went to parties and social gatherings to do things like make friends and form relationships. Alcohol was the medium that teenagers preferred when socializing. Today, teenagers meet and interact with people through texting and using various apps, thus lessening the need for teenagers to use alcohol to “break the ice” in traditional social situations. Alcohol, especially for teenagers, is very social. It’s very much a part of meeting people and building up courage for certain things and social interactions.
Although cigarettes have lost teen interest, the fruity flavored alternative has gained popularity. As of 2016, almost twice as many high school kids vape as smoke. Vaporizer or “vape” products are often filled with refillable cartridges of “e-juice” which contain propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin base, flavorings and may or may not contain nicotine. Sometimes, the vape products just contain flavoring and a base.
Here is where social media comes into play: you may have seen videos of people blowing smoke rings or doing the #doitforjuul. Videos of people doing vape tricks often receive thousands of views. There are more than 3.2 million posts under #vapertricks. These videos are popular because of the visual aesthetics of vape tricks. Some teens vape just for the trendy visual pleasure of the clouds popularized by social media, which is why zero nicotine vape is available. However, some teens vape/juul for the nicotine rush.
Looking at the bigger picture, the drop in drinking and smoking among teens is generally a good change. Some experts argue that teens not maturing fast enough will cause them to not be ready for the real world. However, I believe that what makes someone socially “mature” is not determined by how many adult activities they have done, but rather how knowledgeable and worldly they are.