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Profiles Set to Private Please: Under-Age Drinking Monitored On Instagram

University of Rochester
A team of researchers from the University of Rochester have claimed that data mining from social network sites, in particular Instagram, can be used to help monitor under-age drinking. As one of the most popular social media sites among teenagers, Instagram is thought to be more effective as a tool to observe teenage drinking as it provides a more authentic and candid insight into the issue than conventional researching tools, such as surveys. It is thought that young people are more honest on social media than they are likely to be when participating in administered evaluations.

Both the words and images posted by young adults on the app are used to help findings. Whilst Instagram does not have a feature to search for users by age (kinda creepy), researchers have developed techniques that allow computers to extract information from images on the internet. Social media hash-tags prove essential to the collection of data, as does the mention of brand names in user's posts.

So far the research has found that under-age alcohol consumption increased at the weekends and holidays, in a similar pattern to adults. It also found that different genders are attracted to different alcohol brands.

“This new method could be a useful complement to more traditional methods of measuring youth drinking,” said Elizabeth Handley, clinical psychologist and research associate at the University’s Mount Hope Family Center. “It could provide important new insights into the contexts of youth drinking and be a valuable tool for evaluating the effectiveness of school or community-based preventive interventions.”



SMF rookie, fresh out of academia, looking forward to more creative ventures. With a love of current affairs, green tea and an ever insatiable wanderlust, Katie is ready to have her voice heard. Follow her @KatieAtSMF


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Profiles Set to Private Please: Under-Age Drinking Monitored On Instagram Reviewed by Katie Gascoyne on Thursday, November 12, 2015 Rating: 5

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