Instagram can prove useful in monitoring drinking habits of teenagers

A team of researchers from the University of Rochester has devised a simple and easy method to find underage drinking patterns as compared to conventional surveys. The method involves using photos and text from Instagram. The method not only exposes the patterns of underage drinking but also reveals which alcohol brand is a rage among teen drinkers and so also the types that are favored by different demographic groups.

Instagram is extremely popular among teenagers and offers a wealth of information about the behavioral trends among teens in the form of photos and texts.

Jiebo Luo, professor of computer science at the University of Rochester, and his colleagues revealed that underage drinkers often boast about their drinking escapades in the social media.

Such studies of social media of teens give a wealth of information passively and in an undisturbed state. One of the disadvantages of conventional methods is that teenagers may not be very honest while talking about their drinking habits.

Researchers hoped to know patterns in the drinking habits of teens which will in turn help effective intervention.

Jiebo and his research team marked a group of teens for study and monitored their drinking-related habits via Instagram pictures. The researchers analyzed the social media tags associated with these pictures by employing a specially created internet slang dictionary and alcohol brands that are popular among teens.

The analysis provided a wealth of information about teen alcohol consumption much akin to adults happened more often on weekends and holidays and the end of days.

The study also revealed that teens used different alcohol brands in varying degrees and different genders followed different brands.This information will be of immense help to those people who are working with underage drinkers.

The study will be presented at the ongoing 2015 IEEE International Conference on Big Data in Santa Clara, California.

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