FRIDAY, Oct. 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Teenage boys who see ads for pot are more likely than girls to link marijuana with better sex, a new study suggests.
The reason? Many boys think people who use pot are less inhibited and enjoy sex more, which leads them to want to try marijuana in the future. Girls and young women, however, are less likely to use pot based on messages that connect it to sex, the researchers found.
"The messages adolescents and young adults are seeing are part of what is having impact, the type of appeal and the content, not just the fact that young people are seeing these messages on social media," said lead author Jessica Fitts Willoughby, an associate professor with the Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. "Messages matter."
Beyond the connection between marijuana and sex, advertising and social media that portrays marijuana in any positive light affects teens and young adults, Willoughby added.
Parents need to talk with their kids about having a more critical attitude toward marijuana messages, said co-author Stacey Hust, an associate professor at Murrow.
"The next step is to identify how advertisements affect people as it relates to sex-related marijuana expectancies, as well as the intent for use before and after sex," Hust said in a university news release.
For the study, the researchers surveyed 350 teens aged 15 to 17 and nearly 1,000 college-aged adults. Regardless of age or sex, researchers found that those who saw more pro-marijuana content on social media intended to use pot in the future.
These findings suggest that regulations of the content of marijuana advertisements, not just where marijuana advertisements are placed, may be needed.
Females and college-aged men did not have the same expectations of pot and its effects on sex as younger boys. The researchers don't know why older males weren't influenced in the same way, but one possibility is that college men have more sexual experience to draw on as a means of forming their opinion of sex and marijuana.
The findings were published recently in the Journal of Sex Research.
For more on marijuana, see the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
SOURCE: Washington State University, news release, Oct. 28, 2020
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