Social media may expose problem drinkers

(WOIO) - Your Facebook page can say a lot about you - both good and bad.

A new study finds social media websites, like Facebook or MySpace, may reveal information that could identify underage college students who may be at risk for problem drinking.

Dr. Scott Bea did not take part in the study, but is a Psychologist at Cleveland Clinic.

"What they found is that people that tend to display themselves with references to alcohol or intoxication and problem drinking were much more likely to score high on this questionnaire reflecting a tendency toward problem drinking, alcoholism, being at risk for these sorts of things," said Bea.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin did two things; they looked at pictures of displayed alcohol on college students' social media pages, then had the students fill out a survey on problem drinking.

Of the more than 300 profile pages in the study, 16% displayed references to intoxication and or problem drinking.

And of the more than 200 students who completed the survey, 35% scored into the "at-risk for problem drinking" category.

Researchers say the findings may help determine which students should be screened for problem alcohol use.

Dr. Bea agrees.

"Not only might we guess at it, but we have some evidence that these may be folks that are actually at risk.  You've got to remember, these are all underage kids 18-20 years old in the study, so these are kids displaying references to what is illegal behavior for them."

Complete findings for this study are in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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