Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Randall Capps (Director), James Kanan, Edward Bohlander

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


The Social Development Theory has guided substance abuse prevention planning and programming for the past two decades. One of the key risk factors cited in and targeted by Social Development Model strategies is that of the influence of peers on adolescent substance use. With the advent of modern cellular technology, the manner in which adolescents currently interact has shifted in preference from that of traditional face-to-face to interaction through text messaging. Recent research has suggested a link between the frequency of adolescent texting behavior and adolescent substance use. This shift in interaction may influence the mechanisms of peer influence and possibly could affect the efficacy of the Social Development Model as a foundational drug prevention theory. This exploratory study was conducted to determine whether the new communication method of text messaging and its interaction with traditionally accepted risk factors has an effect on the likelihood of adolescent alcohol use. Data from the Save Our Kids Survey conducted within two regional school systems was analyzed using logistic regression analyses. Data from the regression analyses indicated that the number of texts sent to and received from peers had a minimal effect on the likelihood of adolescent alcohol use. The likelihood of adolescent use of alcohol was most affected by text message-based interaction with peers who use alcohol, as well as discussion of alcohol use through modern cellular technology. Text messaging is simply the manner in which most adolescents currently communicate. The most important finding was that it is not necessarily how adolescents communicate, but to whom they communicate and the message that is transferred. Consequently, the Social Development Model remains a salient foundational theory for current prevention practice.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Educational Leadership | Personality and Social Contexts