The Online Cult of Marijuana — Time for Parents To “Parent”

Social norming and marijuana
Unconditional access to the internet pits parenting against a barrage of messaging designed to drive them to pot.
Internet awash in pro-marijuana messaging.
If we let it, social norming can out influence parenting. It is up to us.

Some adults become so self-absorbed that they don’t tend to the age-appropriate needs of kids.

We are given birthing classes when our children are on the way.  But we are not given classes on the adolescent stage of development. We need them.

The internet is awash with messages that glorify the use of pot. Often these messages employ sarcasm and irony to drive home a message in contradiction to the more sensible advice of parents whose boundary-setting is based in the good advice of fact-backed research or often just good common sense.

This Cult of Marijuana is rife with messages that introduce “good reasons” to get high — appealing directly to the insecurities most teens feel. Kids do not get irony. Even if they laugh along.  These are adolescents and pre-adolescents.

They do what they see others doing if that feels like its cool. They are more likely to mimic behaviors that they observe. That is how they learn. And they do what they believe their peers are doing.  And they are incredibly curious.

This is social norming pressure influencing kids during their most formative time.

As parents, when we give them unconditional use of the internet and smart phones, we give them the means to spend countless more hours in the presence of what feels “cool” than in alternatives free of these messages designed to manipulate.

In the same way that the tobacco industry appealed to kids through clever advertising that made smoking seem “cool”, the marijuana industry is using the modern medium of the internet to appeal to today’s youth.  It is drug marketing. To kids.

The adult brain may experience it as ironic. The adult brain has the ability to understand long term costs and consequences. And the introduction of these images of destructive or risky behavior tied to social rewards is more easily rejected — because the downside is known.

The adolescent brain does not process the reality of future consequences. Teens feel invincible.  They are more impulsive. And more likely to be risk takers.

Videos with titles like “12 ways weed can improve your life” and articles like “High School Students Who Smoke Weed Get Better Grades Than Those Who Smoke Tobacco” are deliberately being pitched to drive addiction.  They prey on the inability of youth to discern irony and satire or on manipulated statistics to appear factual or scientific.

Addiction is being driven to create a market of lifetime, heavy users.  Because lifetime heavy users drive profits. For alcohol, for tobacco, and yes, for marijuana.

This messaging gives young people good reasons to do drugs. And more of them will do so after seeing this — especially those  alone in their room wishing life were more fun and exciting and that they had friends like everyone else — in that video!.

Adults can reject the message. Adults can put the message into context. To do this they must engage and be aware of what they are allowing their kids to be exposed.

As parents, we need to be adults and protect their kids from these influences.
There are consequences.

We must remember, that “parent” is also a verb. A doing word. You have to “parent” to be a parent.