Prospective Association of Digital Media Use with Alcohol Use Initiation and Progression Among Adolescents

Kira E. Riehm, Johannes Thrul, Jessica L. Barrington-Trimis, Annemarie Kelleghan, Ramin Mojtabai, Adam M. Leventhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Although adolescents commonly use digital media and consume alcohol, longitudinal evidence of the association between these behaviors is scant. This study examined the association between the frequency of digital media use and the subsequent initiation or progression of alcohol use. We also examined whether these associations were moderated by gender and race/ethnicity. Methods: The study included 2,473 adolescents from a prospective cohort in the Los Angeles, CA area who were surveyed in fall 2015 (11th grade, baseline for the current study) and every 6 months through the end of high school (Spring 2017, 12th grade). At baseline, youth self-reported the total number of 14 digital media activities (e.g., checking social media, streaming music/videos, texting) they engaged in at a high frequency (i.e., many times a day) over the past week. Scores ranged from 0 (i.e., no reported high-frequency digital media use) to 14 (i.e., reported engagement in all 14 digital media activities at a high frequency). Self-report measures of ever using alcohol, number of days of alcohol use in the past 30 days (0 to 30), binge drinking (yes/no), and covariates (i.e., demographics and measures of behavioral health and other substance use) were assessed at each time point. Results: Among respondents who at baseline reported never using alcohol (n = 1,214), high-frequency engagement in each additional digital media activity was associated with 4% higher odds of initiating alcohol use (aOR = 1.04, 95% CI: 1.01 to 1.07) across follow-up. Among respondents who at baseline reported ever using alcohol (n = 1,259), baseline high-frequency engagement in each additional digital media activity was associated at follow-up with 3% more days of alcohol use in the past 30 days (aIRR = 1.03, 95% CI: 1.00 to 1.06). Digital media use and binge drinking were not statistically significantly associated at follow-up. There was no evidence of moderation by gender or race/ethnicity. Conclusions: Digital media use frequency was modestly associated with increased risk of initiation and progression of alcohol use in adolescence. Additional research is needed to determine potential mechanisms for these associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol Use
  • Binge Drinking
  • Digital Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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