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College Students Who Drink More and are Anxious Feel More Connected to Facebook

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College students who report greater alcohol use and higher levels of anxiety appear to be more emotionally connected with Facebook, a new study concludes.

The study included 229 college freshmen, who were asked about their anxiety and loneliness, as well as their alcohol and marijuana use. Researcher Russell Clayton of the University of Missouri School of Journalism found students who reported both higher levels of anxiety and greater alcohol use also were the most emotionally connected with Facebook, CNET reports.

Students with higher levels of loneliness said they used Facebook to connect with others, but were not emotionally connected to it.

“People who perceive themselves to be anxious are more likely to want to meet and connect with people online, as opposed to a more social, public setting,” Clayton said in a news release. “Also, when people who are emotionally connected to Facebook view pictures and statuses of their Facebook friends using alcohol, they are more motivated to engage in similar online behaviors in order to fit in socially.”

He added that since alcohol use is generally viewed as socially acceptable among college students, drinking more may cause an increase in emotional connectedness to Facebook.

The study also found marijuana use was associated with less emotional connectedness with the social networking site. “Marijuana use is less normative, meaning fewer people post on Facebook about using it,” Clayton said. “In turn, people who engage in marijuana use are less likely to be emotionally attached to Facebook.”

The study appears in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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