Teen Drug Abuse sometimes tied to Social Media
Inspirations for Youth and Families (IYF) conducted an investigative report about the link between social media and teen drug abuse. We spoke with Gabriel and Alexis, who are teens at our addiction treatment center about their experiences on this subject. And we also had the rare opportunity to talk to Efrat Cohen. She is a leading Private Investigator and executive director of Global Intelligence Consultants about the hidden dangers between social media and teen drug abuse. Efrat has been a guest speaker at IYF on several occasions talking about the Internet and the threats it poses to teens.
Here are excerpts from the Social Media and Teen Drug Abuse interviews:
IYF: So what is the predominant social media web site or app that teens are using the most?
Gabriel: Instagram or possibly Snap Chat. But I think mainly Instagram. Because there are so many notorious celebrities teens follow that post videos of them using drugs like Whiz Khalif.
Actually I knew a kid in my school who had a drug account on Snap Chat.
Gabriel, Inspirations Teen
A lot of the rappers like to post videos of them smoking marijuana. So I feel it heavily influences teens to smoke pot too. Music is a big thing for teens. They are heavily into music and follow their favorite artists. And when a teenager sees what the artist is doing they think wow he is having a good time. So I think I will do what he is doing.
IYF: Is it true that some teens are using Snap Chat to deal drugs?
Gabriel: Actually I knew a kid in my school who had a drug account on Snap Chat. And he had two Snap Chat accounts. He had his own personal one which he posted like stuff he was doing everyday and he had another account which he sold drugs on.
So you message him and say: “Can I get some of this?” and he would message back 30 or 40 times a day. And he would use that to sell his drugs. He wouldn’t use text messaging because he was afraid his parents would find out that he was texting people about drugs.
IYF: What are some other popular social media web sites?
Alexis: Tumblr is a popular social media web site for teen drug abuse. Everybody wants to have a Tumblr account. And Tumblr also glorifies drugs, sex, and anyone pretty much any age can make a Tumblr profile or just go to the web site and watch the inappropriate content. You download the app from your cell phone and it asks you if you are 17 and anyone can enter. Parents need to be aware of what apps their children are downloading,
IYF: What is a Spam account?
Alexis: So you have your main account and then you just create another account because Instagram allows you to create two accounts. So you created the spam account and you only let people follow it that you trust. That way when you post those things about drugs only people you know who won’t snitch on you will see it.
IYF: Can a private investigator trace back deleted Snap Chat messages?
Efrat Cohen: A Snap Chat message could be deleted from your phone and from the recipients phone. But it is still recorded in the Snap Chat’s memory. And so if a police officer or someone in law enforcement subpoenas them to get information, they will get that information.
Whether you are using Snap Chat or Facebook or Instagram, law enforcement can go and get a subpoena of all the names and all the records of the people that they are looking for. So just because it is off your computer or tablet that does not mean it is not out there. It is recorded somewhere. And anybody can get a subpoena for that if you are in law enforcement.
Just because you deleted an image showing you using drugs on your account does not me it is not online anymore.
Efrat Cohen, Private InvestigatorIYF: If a teen puts an image or video of themselves doing drugs on social media what can be the repercussions?
Efrat Cohen: So taking pictures with alcohol or drugs may seem cool if you want to fit into that type of drug environment. But it is not cool once you graduate high school and you are trying to get into college because they won’t accept you if you have crazy pictures of partying and alcohol and smoking joints. That is not what they are looking for.
And also if you want to get a job later on in life, we do background checks for employment and we search through people’s social media accounts and just because you deleted an image showing you using drugs on your account does not mean it is not online anymore. Someone else could have tagged it and it goes all over the Internet. As a private investigator we will be able to pull up those pictures and if you want to get a good job and make good money in life this makes it much harder for you.
The Domino Effect
It is kind of like the domino effect. If you push one domino all the others fall. As investigators we are constantly scouring teen’s social media accounts to find illicit drug abuse. We work for schools and employers. When we do a search we find everything on everybody. Because it is out there and some teens publicize their drug use because they want to be cool. They want to have a cool picture of them smoking a joint or sometimes much worse. But it is not cool. And you are not going to get a good job if we find teen drug abuse. And people are going to judge you because of that picture.
Please watch our Social Media and Teen Drug Abuse PowerPoint.