Social Media and Peer Pressure

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Story Updated: Sep 4, 2013

.. listen up!

In what appears to be a case of online monkey-see-monkey-do.... teenagers who see friends smoking and drinking alcohol in photos online... are more likely to drink and smoke themselves.

Researchers surveyed more than 15-hundred high school Sophomores starting in the fall of 2010. All were asked about their friendships -- both online and off Ð how much time they spent on social media sites, whether they smoked or drank alcohol.

As it turns out, the size of a teen's online network of friends was not a significant factor in risky behavior.

But exposure to a friend's online pictures of partying was significantly linked to both smoking and alcohol use.

On average, 34-percent of students had at least one friend who talked about partying online and 20 percent reported that their friends posted drinking pictures.

Researchers believe this is the first study to analyze how a teenager's online life can affect real life behavior.... They say this sort of online peer pressure is important for parents to know about since 95% of 12 to 17 year olds are on the Internet every day.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with the health news for you and your family.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com