Abstract: Exploring the Role of Snapchat Use in Predicting Alcohol Consumption Among College Students (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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682P Exploring the Role of Snapchat Use in Predicting Alcohol Consumption Among College Students

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Jay D. O'Shields, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Adrienne Baldwin-White, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia, GA
Background and Purpose: Social norms theory suggests that if a college student believes binge drinking is a norm among the majority of their peers, they will be at increased risk for binge drinking themselves. The way in which college student’s norms around drinking are established has fundamentally changed due to the increased use of social media platforms where students are exposed to advertisements that glorify alcohol consumption or observe their peers drinking alcohol. Thus, social media may be a distinct contributor to college binge drinking. e present study investigated the relationship between social media platform and alcohol consumption among college students so as to provide new insights on how to better target interventions for this population.

Methods: Data was collected from college students ages 18 to 25 at a Southeastern, predominately white institution through a cross sectional online survey (N=330). The sample was predominately white (67%) and female (52%), with a mean age of 21.33 (SD=1.434). Students had spent an average of 2.47(SD = 1.141) years at the university.

An OLS multiple linear regression was utilized with number of alcoholic drinks consumed during a typical episode of drinking serving as a dependent variable. The dependent variable was measured via a 10 point likert scale with possible scores ranging between 1 drink consumed (score of 10) and 23+ drinks consumed (score of 1) during a typical episode of drinking. The primary predictor variable of interest was the social media platform utilized by participants, which included Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Demographics (age, race, gender, number of years at the institution, sorority/fraternity affiliation), frequency of episodes of drinking, amount of time spent on social media, and frequency of accessing social media were included as relevant covariates in the model.

Results: The regression model yielded a significant result (F[11, 318]= 14.70, p=0.001), accounting for 33.7% of the variance in mean number of drinks consumed during a typical episode of drinking. Among social media platforms, only Snapchat was found to have a significant positive relationship with number of alcoholic drinks consumed, demonstrating a 0.447 increase in drinking, while holding all other covariates constant (p=0.017). Among covariates included, both frequency of drinking episodes (b= 0.383, p>0.001) and female gender (b= 0.276 ,p=0.045) were found to have a negative relationship with the number of drinks consumed. Taken together, these results suggest that Snapchat is associated with an increase in number of drinks consumed, while female gender and increasing frequency of drinking episodes was associated a decrease in number of drinks.

Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that Snapchat utilization among college students may be a significant contributor to the amount of alcohol consumed by college students. While factors such as sorority/fraternity affiliation and age, have been conceptualized as important factors in understanding who may be at risk for binge drinking in the past, these findings suggest that Snapchat use itself may offer the most efficient route for helping to provide more realistic norms around alcohol consumption on college campuses, and in the process decrease binge drinking.