Majority Of TikTok's 1B Users View Cannabis Content As Positive, Why Is This Concerning?

How do more than 1 billion active monthly users on TikTok view cannabis content? 

Apparently, mostly in a positive light. 

A new research study published in Drug and Alcohol Review analyzed marijuana content on the platform, including concerns with youth consumption, considering that one-third of TikTok users are under 14 years of age. The study, “Getting high for likes: Exploring cannabis-related content on TikTok,” found that cannabis consumption is mainly seen as positive on the platform, reported High Times

Brienna Rutherford, the study's lead author provided more information on the research and idea behind it.

“Social media is a big part of the modern world, with adolescents reporting that they spend an average of eight hours online every day,” said Rutherford, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Queensland in Australia. “Despite this high volume of use, little is known about the potential risks exposure to social media content depicting substance use may have on viewers. However, before you can assess the effects of exposure, we need to know what content is out there and accessible.”

According to analyses, there were seven main categories for videos with cannabis content - Humor/Entertainment (71.74%), Experiences (42.90%), Lifestyle Acceptability (24.63%), Informative/How-To (7.5%), Creativity (5.4%), and Warning (2.7%).

The study estimated that some 54.14% of videos, which accumulatively garnered 417 million views, were presented as positive, with only 50 videos actually presenting marijuana consumption.

 “The main take-home point from this study is that there is a high number of cannabis-related videos on TikTok that are a) publicly accessible via links (even without accounts!), b) have no age restrictions or content warning banners, and c) are promoting the use of cannabis to viewers,” Rutherford noted. “While many countries are moving towards legalization, that doesn’t mean cannabis use is without risk and none of this content addresses the potential negative health consequences associated with use.”

Rutherford concluded that the next step should be to analyze the impacts these videos have on viewers’ perspectives and behaviors around marijuana consumption.

 “Exposure to text- or image-based substance use content on platforms like Facebook (FB) and Instagram have been shown to influence the likelihood of substance use, so it is likely that a more engaging platform and content type (such as TikTok’s short-form videos) may have an even larger influence,” Rutherford said.

Photo: Courtesy of Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

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