A team of researchers from the University of Rochester have begun utilizing the popular social media platform Instagram to mine data and track teenage drinking patterns. Using photos, hashtags, and text from the photo-based platform, data will be used to not only monitor drinking habits but also find new, emerging patterns in a quicker and more cost-effective way. Professor Jiebo Luo explains that teens are “willing to share their alcohol consumption experience” via the social platform, and studying public Instagram posts allows researchers a look into teens’ behaviors without bias or censoring.

Thus far, the team has found that underage alcohol consumption tends to occur most on weekends and holidays; so far there is no strong bias toward one gender or the other. Researchers are hopeful that exposing new drinking patterns among teenagers will help to develop effective methods of intervention.

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