Would teens not smoke and drug, had Facebook not been there?

A new study by the National Center on Addiction and Substances Abuse at Columbia suggests, time spent social networking increases the risk of teens smoking, drinking and using drugs.

About 70 percent of the teenagers aging from 12 to 17 spend time on Facebook, Myspace and other social networking sites and these social network savvy teens are five times more likely to use tobacco; three times more likely to use alcohol; and twice as likely to use marijuana than teens who do not spend any of their day on social networking sites.

“The results are profoundly troubling ... the anything goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression, suggestive television programing and what-the-hell attitudes put teens at sharply increased risk of substance abuse, CASA Founder and Chairman Joseph Califano Jr said in a statement.

Knowledge Networks surveyed 1,037 teens ages 12 to 17 and 528 parents of these teens over the Internet. QEV Analytics, Ltd. conducted the annual telephone survey of 1,006 teens 12 to 17, asking questions CASA has used to track trends.

Results revealed that half of teens who spend any time social networking in a given day have seen pictures of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs on these sites.

However, the study found that 9 of 10 parents do not think teens spending time on social networking sites like Facebook are likelier to drink or use drugs.