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SoCJ mass communication faculty publishes research on social media and e-cigarette use

Xia ZhengA team of faculty from the School of Communication and Journalism recently published a paper that continues to explore how social media impacts health behavior.

“It is increasingly apparent that social media has enormous impacts on our health and behavior,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the SoCJ and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “The messages and content we consume on these digital platforms can also impact what we believe, and how we act, with regards to our health. 

“I applaud these faculty for their ongoing work in understanding how these relationships develop, and in exploring how we can mitigate adverse effects.”

The researchers published the piece, about the impact of social-media on e-cigarette use among youth, in Addictive Behaviors. Assistant professors of mass communication Xia Zheng, Wenbo Li and Ruobing Li, along with two colleagues from Indiana University, published “Exposure to user-generated e-cigarette content on social media associated with greater vulnerability to e-cigarette use among youth non-users.” 

Their study found that when youth non-users saw people they knew, whether friends or celebrities, posting about using e-cigarettes on social media, those youths were more likely to perceive a reduced risk and more positive norms in using those products themselves. The researchers suggest that encouraging individuals, influencers and celebrities to post interventional messages about the risks of e-cigarettes might help mitigate non-users’ e-cigarette vulnerabilities and, perhaps, reduce e-cigarette use in young people.

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