Social media and alcohol usage under spotlight

Links between social media use and alcohol consumption are the subject of a series of infographics prodcued by academics at Massey University.

Greater insight into emerging links between alcohol consumption and social media usage will be gained with the launch of a series of online initiatives highlighting the issue.

Drinking Cultures is the name of a research programme and website that investigates how New Zealand youth use social technologies (like Facebook, YouTube, text messaging) in their drinking environment.

Researchers led by Professor Antonia Lyons from Massey University’s School of Psychology, have devised the website and associated infographics to inform the public more about the links between digital marketing, social media use and drinking. 

“New marketing techniques – such as using geolocation-enabled smartphone notifications of nearby drinks specials – are often welcomed by internet savvy young people. But this marketing penetrates far into friend networks, and blurs the line between commercial and non-commercial content,” Professor Lyons says.

“ To tackle the expensive and difficult social issue of problematic youth drinking, we need to highlight the role of digital alcohol marketing and how it reinforces the normalisation of alcohol and our culture of drinking to intoxication.”

To spread the message beyond academic circles and policy makers within government, Professor Lyons and colleagues Professor Kerry Chamberlain and researcher Emily Garden have created the range of infographic resources to help inform parents and care-givers more effectively about how younger people are being targeted by alcohol companies social media marketing campaigns.

“The infographic is aimed at the public to raise awareness about how alcohol companies use social media to increase sales and get young people attached to their brand,” Professor Lyons says.

By clicking on five separate links within the infographic, people can learn more about how geolocation technology is being used to by marketers to access Facebook users personal information, send personalised messages and get social media users to do their work by tagging promotional images taken at club, pub, music and sporting events.

The website launch follows the publication of a book Youth drinking cultures in a digital world: Alcohol, social media and cultures of intoxification editedby Professor Lyons, and colleagues Professor Tim McCreanor, Dr Ian Goodwin, and Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes.

In addition, the researchers have drafted a policy brief that reviews current local and international research and urges greater regulation of alcohol marketing on social media sites.



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