Silly People Convinced Facebook Is Making Teens Do Drugs

August 29, 2011

Here's your educational lesson for the day: correlation, that is, two things that happen at the same time, is not causation. For example, when ice cream sales go up, so do drownings...because it's warm, so people are swimming more and eating more ice cream. But the ice cream doesn't cause the drownings. Why do we bring this seemingly simple thing up?

Because some alleged professional seems to have forgotten it.

Meet Joseph Califano. He thinks Facebook is making teenagers drink. No, seriously. He really believes that, and he's got the correlations to prove it! Teens who view pictures of other teens getting drunk and passing out on Facebook are three times more likely to drink, four times more likely to smoke weed, and three to four times more likely to know where you can get weed. This is compared to teens who don't view pictures of this. And this, according to the study authors, is obviously because teenagers lack any ability to understand that drugs are bad without a big disclaimer flashing right in their eyes at all times, and lack any capacity for independent thought.

What does this mean, beyond the fact that your little brother has been holding out on you? Well, despite what Califano, who insists it's "electronic child abuse," would have you believe, it means nothing. Teen drug use was statistically the highest in...1978. The guy who founded Facebook? Yeah, not born until 1984. In fact, teen drug use, after an uptick in the '90s, has been steadily dropping.

In short, what it means is that teens who get drunk or stoned are more likely to post pictures of being drunk and stoned on Facebook. Also that we should probably ask where the parents are in all this, since it seems like their kids getting drunk or stoned would be something they'd want to know about.

Photo: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images