Young teens getting access to drugs via social media | #socialmedia | #children | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

There are fears children as young as 14 are getting access to drugs through social media.

A new investigation by Newstalk has found dozens of accounts advertising the sale of drugs like cocaine and cannabis.

Within 10 minutes of setting up an Instagram and Snapchat account, Newstalk found close to 50 accounts advertising the sale of drugs.

Some have thousands of followers and post menus of what they have available that day.

Many dealers offer a pick up or delivery service – raising concerns about how easy it is for young people to access drugs.

Brendan Cummins, a youth worker at Familibase in Ballyfermot, said it is quite easy to find the social media accounts.

“There is a fair amount of advertising on social media. You can nearly search in your Facebook bar for a certain type of drug and it will come up in your feed,” said Mr Cummins.

He said the days of meeting someone on a corner or someone selling from a particular spot is long gone.

Mr Cummins said that when drugs and drug use are appearing so frequently on young people’s social media feeds it gives the impression that everyone is doing it.

It kind of gets ingrained that it’s not as harmful, everybody is doing it, it looks popular, it looks trendy and so young people are more likely to try it.

The EU’s Drugs Agency is warning social media is playing a bigger part in how people get their drugs during the pandemic.

Janet Robinson from the Ballyfermot local drugs taskforce says recent research backs that up.

She said that while going directly to a drug dealer or a friend are the most commonly used methods to buy drugs, using social media has grown in popularity and is now the third most used method.

“I suppose it’s a natural extension of what young people normally do anyway on a daily basis. They are always on social media communicating with friends or whatever,” said Ms Robinson.

“So it is a natural progression for drug dealers to use that method to reach their target group.”

Picture: PA

Many of those running these accounts use slang terms and emojis to avoid detection – something the social media companies say they are trying to crack down on.

Instagram said it is working with Gardaí to tackle the sale of drugs on its platform and has taken down over a million related posts.

While Snapchat told us it is further investing ways to improve their response to this kind of activity.

Both companies insist buying or selling drugs is not allowed on their platforms.

Nicki Killeen monitors drug trends for the HSE and says young people need to be aware of what they are buying online.

“Some of the studies do state that people who use social media or online means to access drugs may see that there is a trust there,” said Ms Killeen.

“Our message is the same regardless of where someone accesses their drugs – whether that is the surface net, the dark net or social media – you can never be certain of the contents. Some drugs may be more potent which increases the risks of an overdose or a drug emergency.”

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