Adolescent Social Networks and Alcohol Use: Variability by Gender and Type Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • BACKGROUND: Scientists have established that social networks influence adolescents' substance use behavior, an influence that varies by gender. However, the role of gender in this mechanism of influence remains poorly understood. Particularly, the role an adolescent's gender, alongside the gender composition of his/her network, plays in facilitating or constraining alcohol use is still unclear. OBJECTIVES: This study examined the associations among the gender composition of adolescents' networks, select network characteristics, intrapersonal and interpersonal factors, and alcohol use among a sample of adolescents in the United States. METHODS: We assessed cross-sectional data from a 2010 study of 1,523 high school students from a school district in Los Angeles. Analyses of adolescents' network characteristics were conducted using UCINET 6; and logistic regression analyses testing the associations between gender composition of the network and alcohol use were conducted using SPSS 20. RESULTS: Our results indicate that the gender composition of adolescents' networks in our sample is associated with alcohol use. Adolescents in predominantly female or predominantly male friendship networks were less likely to report alcohol use compared to adolescents in an equal/balanced network. In addition, depending upon the context/type of network, intrapersonal and interpersonal factors varied in their association with alcohol use. Conclusions/Importance: Based on these findings, we make several recommendations for the future research. We call for researchers to further examine gender as a risk factor for alcohol abuse, particularly within the complex interplay between gender and network contexts.

altmetric score

  • 2.35

author list (cited authors)

  • Jacobs, W., Goodson, P., Barry, A. E., McLeroy, K. R., McKyer, E., & Valente, T. W.

citation count

  • 7

publication date

  • December 2016