Instagram Monitors Underaged Drinking

The University of Rochester researchers have made a study regarding underaged alcohol drinking using Instagram. Using computer vision technology, the researchers were able to identify not only alcohol labels but also accurate estimates for age, gender and race.

Observing teenage drinking habits can be quite problematic. Teenagers have a tendency not to be completely honest when it comes to being asked on their alcohol consumption. With this in mind, scholars from the University of Rochester in New York turned to online photo-sharing and video-sharing site Instagram.

The researchers believe that social media can convey information cheaply and quicker compared to traditional surveys. Also, the research discovers the labels of alcoholic beverages that teenagers favored.

The team of scholars headed by Jiebo Luo wrote in the research that teenagers are more than happy to share their alcoholic experiences openly on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, and monitoring these sites allow observers to look at them in an uninterrupted state.

Although Instagram does not restrict its users by age, the school researchers utilized computer vision know-how to get appropriate and precise estimates for kids' age, race and gender. Along with it, a slang dictionary is constructed together with alcohol labels was used to gather the essential information for the research.

As a result, the research conveyed that alcohol consumption by teenagers occur more often during holidays, weekends and sometimes before the day ends. Also, alcohol consumption came unbiased when it comes to gender or race. With it the ratio matched its Instagram users. In addition, the researchers identified alcoholic brands that teenagers mostly favored which could be a useful information to organizations that deals with under-aged alcoholism.

The University's Mount Hope Family Center Clinical Psychologist and Research Associate Elizabeth Handley made an addition that the method could be a useful complement with regard to conventional methodology of measuring teenage alcoholism. The research could provide interesting insights regarding to underage alcoholism and that it could be a very useful tool for evaluating school effectiveness on preemptive intercessions for teenage drinking habits.

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