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Social Affordances of Mobile Phone Cameras and Social Network Sites in College Drinking

It is well known that alcohol use is prominent in American collegiate social life. In recent years, mobile phones with cameras and social media have become integrated into drinking habits. A new study followed 40 college students and observed how these technologies were incorporated into their drinking practices.

In this study, qualitative interviews were conducted with 40 undergraduate students to collect data on their use of cell phone cameras and alcohol use. This included recent use of cell phones to plan a social activity that involved alcohol use or documenting an occasion on social media.

The results of this research indicated that although college drinking is consistent with long-standing practices of alcohol use, adding the elements of mobile phones and social media change the memory making process that goes along with alcohol consumption. The images taken and shared with others often highlight groups having a good time, encourage excessive drinking, and show off intoxication and ability to drink. The ease of sharing such images has changed the social atmosphere of drinking due to one’s ability to choose how to represent their alcohol use on social media. Further research is needed on the implications of how this changes college drinking.

Take Away: Much of modern college drinking reflects long-standing practices of alcohol use. However, the addition of mobile phone cameras and social media has allowed for college students today to post their alcohol use on social media and archive the social aspects of drinking.

Quintero, G., Bundy, H., Grocke, M. (2019). “I Want to See Those Memories”: Social Affordances of Mobile Phone Cameras and Social Network Sites in Collegiate Drinking. Contemporary Drug Problems. doi.org/10.1177/0091450919834970

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