We propose to understand how youth and young adults may be influenced to use marijuana and tobacco by seeing videos about these on YouTube, a social media site. Although fewer numbers of youth in the U.S. are smoking cigarettes, more are smoking little cigars and cigarillos. At the same time slightly more youth are using marijuana while fewer of them think that marijuana use is harmful. Scientific studies have shown that there are links between use of tobacco and marijuana, but how those links work is not yet clear. Youth may learn about ways to smoke tobacco and marijuana by watching videos on YouTube, an online social network site for posting, viewing, commenting on, and sharing videos. So far, few or no researchers have asked youth about how they use YouTube videos in terms of tobacco and marijuana smoking practices, including how these videos may or may not reflect and impact on their use of tobacco and marijuana. On the other hand, youths may observe, experience, and learn to interpret the experience of smoking blunts for marijuana and boosting from the other people with whom they hang out, during the occasions when they are hanging out, when this involves smoking marijuana. Our research has three parts: Two phases of Social Media Content Analysis with one phase in between of Ethnographic Interviews.
The specific questions we hope to answer are:
- What messages are available on YouTube to youth about risks and rationales for dual use of tobacco and marijuana?
- How do youth who are involved in marijuana use receive and interpret messages about using tobacco with marijuana?
- How do dual use portrayals on YouTube relate to the ways in which youth themselves use and think about tobacco and marijuana in practice?
Results of this study can help scientists and people who work with youth develop strategies to increase awareness among youth of risks associated with tobacco use for blunts or boosting. The results can help us understand whether or not YouTube viewing may influence youth in using marijuana and tobacco. If YouTube does not have much impact on youth, then scientists and people who work with youth can focus on things we know that matter, such as peers, policy, and prices. If on the other hand YouTube may influence youth marijuana and tobacco use, we can advise parents and people who work with youth on ways to counter the pro-tobacco messages on YouTube.