Life unfiltered: Social control theory in the age of social media and substance abuse



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Hirschi (1969) may have never used Social Media, received a Like or Re-Tweet or posted a heart-felt emoji, but his Social Control Theory may be affected by the actions of Social Media and its users. Hirschi’s Social Control Theory purports to explain why individuals choose to follow the rules and accept the norms of society. Hirschi postulated that there are four components in normal social systems that instill boundaries and social mores into the psyche of young adults. These four components, attachment, belief, commitment, and involvement are the four elements of social control that prevent individuals from committing crimes. If these components are diminished or eroded, it is possible that young adults may develop a system of beliefs that run contrary to the values of the society they were brought up in. Could Social Media as a dynamic environment somehow contribute to the unfiltered behavior of many members of society who are habitual or excessive users of sites like Facebook and Twitter? The question asked is whether social media promote deviance in young adults, particularly substance issues such as cigarette smoking, underage drinking, and marijuana use. The researcher hypothesizes that excessive Social Media use is eroding the components of Hirschi’s theory, particularly attachment, belief, and commitment, and that this erosion is increasing deviant habits and attitudes among excessive Social Media users.



Social Control Theory, Travis Hirschi, Social Media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Underage Drinking, Marijuana Abuse, Underage Cigarette Smoking, Substance Abuse, Social Learning, Social Dynamics