Instagram is very popular among teenagers. A new study has revealed that Instagram could offer a novel way of monitoring the drinking habits of teenagers as photos and text from the site not only reveal patterns of drinking, but also the brands favored by the youth.
A research team from the University of Rochester has revealed that Instagram data can not only expose patterns of underage drinking more cheaply and faster than conventional surveys, but also find new patterns, such as what alcohol brands or types are favored by different demographic groups. The researchers said, "We hope exposing these patterns could help develop effective intervention."
Lead researcher professor Jiebo Luo said, "Underage drinkers are willing to share their alcohol consumption experience on social media. Studying the social media behavior of this group allows the researchers to observe it passively in an undisturbed state.:
Having selected a group of underage users to study, the research team monitored drinking related activities via their Instagram photos by analyzing the social media tags associated with these photos using a constructed internet slang dictionary and also any alcohol brands the users follow. The investigators found that underage alcohol consumption, like with adults, happens more on weekends and holidays and at the end of the day.
The research team found that different alcohol brands are followed in varying degrees by teenagers, and that different genders follow different brands. They highlighted that this could point out brands that are attracting younger audiences in social media, information that could be useful to people working with underage drinkers.
The study will be presented at the ongoing 2015 IEEE International Conference on Big Data in Santa Clara, California.