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Social Media and Alcohol

March 20, 2015 by in category Drink Driving, News with 0 and 0
Home > News > Drink Driving > Social Media and Alcohol
social media and drink driving


Guest post by Charlotte Knight

Social network sites have quickly established themselves as a must-have accessory for most of the younger generation. Smartphones have made it even easier for people to access and upload content on these sites at any time of the day and social media itself makes it easier for people to socialise and share content such as photos to their online friends.

It has become extremely common that drinking practices and experiences are created and shared within social media. An example of a social media created trend is the recent ‘Neknomination’ trend went which viral and as a result unfortunately resulted in a number of fatalities.

Social media and the accessibility of it also means that people will share and post updates on their profiles without much thought. How often have we heard news reports of unfortunate parents returning home after a lovely weekend away to a trashed house due to teenage house parties getting out of hand as a result of that one unfortunate/naive post?

The new internet sensation of shared alcohol related content on social media sites triggered the Centre of Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University to conduct a study (carried out by Alcohol Research UK) into the role of Social Network Sites in young peoples’ drinking cultures.


The study found that there is evidence of the increasing use of social media by alcohol brands for diverse marketing purposes but they are not usually the ones to blame.

Social media allows young people to create identities and conform to peer groups by posting alcohol related content. The majority of participants in the study displayed alcohol related content on their Facebook profiles. Of all the photos displayed on these profiles, 49% were alcohol related.

Alcohol itself is not usually the primary focus of the content, instead it was the drinking occasion and context of the alcohol related behaviours, such as which bar/club someone had been to that evening, which appeared to be important to young people providing positive appraisal to their peers involved in alcohol experiences.

Due to social media, alcohol consumption is being viewed as a normal, fun social activity which enhances social worth amongst young people. However, there is little reference to responsible drinking within this content, which means that young people are taking part in these alcohol related activities without knowing the potential dangers of alcohol.


One unfortunate teenager who learnt the consequences of sharing an alcohol related experience online the hard way was Jacob Cox-Brown in America. Jacob was arrested after admitting on facebook that he had hit someone’s car whilst drink driving.

social media and alcohol


Social media is both a weird and wonderful phenomenon. It allows us to easily keep in touch with friends and family who live further afield and also to share our daily experiences with our online friends. However, it is precarious in that it creates peer pressure amongst young people to take part in social activities, such as drinking, in order to ‘fit in’.

There have been various campaigns that which are posted and displayed on social media which warn people of the dangerous of alcohol, such as the Crime Stoppers drink driving campaign. Currently, the alcohol health and responsibility campaigns do not get as many ‘likes’ or ‘shares’ as the alcohol branding campaigns. We know only too well however, that the main deterrent to drink driving in the future is investing in campaigns that educate young people.


We would much rather see evidence of campaign success in terms of prevention but anticipate that until there is a serious push to educate, drink driving and mobile phone use whilst driving is likely to be on the rise.

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