January 4, 2011

Poll Watch: Sex, Drugs, and Social Networking

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio presented a paper back in November that concluded that kids who are overly engaged in social networking are also likely to be overly engaged in certain bad behaviors, including sex, drinking, smoking, and fighting. More of the ‘hyper-texters’ who send at least 120 text messages a day, or ‘hyper-netowrkers’ who spend at least three hours daily on networking sights, are poor, female, and from single parent households. The researchers also found increased incidents of depression, television watching, poor eating habits, and increased parental permissiveness. Makes you wonder how they have time to be involved in all of these activities?

In another study released last November, an increase was seen in the number of baby boomers seeking emergency medical treatment for drug misuse or abuse. From 2004 to 2008, the number of folks 50 or older treated in an ER for a drug-related issue increased from almost 116,000 to just over 256,000, an increase of 121%.  Almost a fifth of those visits (19.7%) were by patients at least 70 years old. Not surprisingly, pain relievers (43.5%), drugs used to help relieve anxiety or improve sleep (31.8), and anti-depressants (8.6) were the meds most frequently involved. I say not surprisingly because, other than drugs used to enhance male sexual function, these seem to be the ones most commonly advertised on TV during prime adult viewing hours, such as the evening news.

I learned about boomers and drugs in the latest edition of AARP/The Magazine (yes, I’m a member). The latest edition includes some data on how we stay connected. The survey, which included folks 50 and older, found that while 40% consider themselves extremely or very comfortable using the Internet, an equal 40% prefer to get their news the old fashioned way – via newspaper or print news magazines. When it comes to social networking, 27% of all boomers do it; more do it on Facebook than other sites; 73% are connected to relatives other than children or grandchildren; and 63% of those who were introduced to social networking by a family member were introduced by one of their kids – and likely NOT one of those hyper-networking kids in the CWRU study.