However, it’s important to view vaping and social media in context. For example, e-cigarettes are bound to be shared just like any other product or activity that people talk about online.
In fact, social media serves as an indispensable tool for smokers, former smokers, and the wider vaping community. It is one of the primary ways that vapers share vaping advice, tips, and information with one another online.
It’s easy to see why e-cigarette content on social media makes some parents uneasy, but it’s also important to preserve the open flow of information online.
It’s important to understand that social media is a place for all kinds of people from all over the world to connect, including adults, smokers, and vapers.
Social media connects vapers from all over the world and provides an accessible first stop for people who are looking for a smokeless alternative to learn about vaping.
To restrict e-cigarette content on social media would restrict the ability of adults to discuss and promote an important harm reduction tool.
In this post, we’re going to look at why vaping is so popular on social media and why it’s such an important way for vapers to connect. We’ll also look at whether e-cigarettes on social media are harmful, and what parents can do to address these concerns.
Ultimately, it’s about understanding the benefits of open access to e-cigarette information while understanding and mitigating the risks.
In this post, we are going to address both the benefits and potential drawbacks to vaping content online, and why it may not be as threatening as some parents think.
Why Vapers Love Social Media
Ever since the beginning of vaping, vapers have been particularly active on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Whether sharing tips, showing off photos, or providing support to smokers trying to quit, many vapers truly enjoy socializing with others online.
This is to be expected, since social media has been and always will be a place for people to share their hobbies. For many e-cigarette users, vaping is just another hobby like any other that they enjoy sharing online.
Many people spend a lot of time researching, building, and customizing their vape, and have fun sharing and discussing their work on social media. E-cigarettes are fascinating and often flashy devices, making them well-suited for photographing and posting online.
All of this is to say that e-cigarettes showing up on social media is not a sinister or irresponsible thing. It is also not a ploy by Big Tobacco to get teens hooked on nicotine or “re-normalize” tobacco use.
Those who consider organic e-cigarette content on social media a malicious threat to their kids are most likely not seeing the whole picture.
E-cigarettes are popular on social media for the same reason anything else on social media is popular; because they are sharable, likeable, and have a large base of fans.
Vaping’s prevalence on social media is simply the result of vapers using social media exactly as intended and in a reasonable, responsible way. It’s just as legitimate for the vaping community to share on social media as any other hobby community, and there is nothing unusual about it.
The Upside of Vaping Content on Social Media
Vaping is a smokeless alternative, and e-cigarettes were originally designed for smokers trying to quit. But in order for smokers to utilize e-cigarettes, they need to know that they’re out there and have a good idea of where to find them.
Vaping’s presence on social media helps smokers by making e-cigarettes more accessible. It allows people who smoke to see real people’s experiences and understand how it could be a viable option for them, too.
The visibility of e-cigarettes on social media is a positive thing because it shows smokers what switching to a smokeless alternative looks like in real life.
It also gives them an easy starting point to gather more information and seek advice from other vapers.
Forming communities on social media also allows vapers to support one another in their efforts to stay smoke free. It allows people with similar struggles from all over the world connect through social media and find the advice and support they need to succeed.
Without the visibility and wide reach of social media, vapers wouldn’t be able to run charity efforts like vape-it-forward and sponsor-a-smoker programs.
These programs provide free e-cigarettes to people who need them but can’t afford them, giving many more smokers who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to switch to a smokeless alternative.
Are E-cigarettes on Social Media Bad for Kids?
The effect of media exposure on young people is a controversy as old as time. Whether it’s artwork, books, TV, or the internet, parents worry their kids will be negatively influenced by the things that they see.
While this is a perfectly valid concern, there is little evidence that exposure to e-cigarettes on social media makes kids more likely to vape.
In general, exposure to “bad” or risky things through normal media use is unavoidable and unlikely to have any significant negative consequences, especially for kids in a healthy and nurturing home.
Well-adjusted kids readily understand and respect that there are many adult products and activities that are unacceptable for kids. Because of this, media exposure is not likely to sway any teens not already prone to risky behavior.
Children and teens are bound to encounter e-cigarettes in everyday life, likely even more often than on social media. Whether through peers at school or from being around other adults who vape, it will happen inevitably and repeatedly.
The thing is, the world is full of adult-only products like alcohol, tobacco, and e-cigarettes, both in daily life and online. We know that children are exposed to these things, and we also know how to protect them and minimize the risk of underage use.
Most researchers agree that is no way to shield young people from seeing non-kid friendly content, and there shouldn’t be any need to do so.
What really prevents young people from vaping and other risky behaviors are parents who take an active role in their kids’ lives and take the time to talk to their teens about vaping.
When children inevitably see content about vaping or other age-inappropriate activities on TV or on the internet, it’s up to parents to talk to them and contextualize what they saw.
In fact, mental health experts say that listening to your child and having conversations is the best way to prevent underage tobacco, e-cigarette, and alcohol use, as well as other risky behaviors.
While there are certainly risks that come with excessive social media use, there is no reason to believe that normal, moderate social media use is harmful.
The best way to address any concerns you have about the content your children see online is to set boundaries and monitor their internet use.
It’s also important to teach children how to think critically and process what they see in the media and online. If they know how to resist fads, recognize ads, and view content through a critical lens, they will be much more resilient against any negative influences in online content.
Vaping and Social Media Will Always Go Hand in Hand
Outrage and concern over e-cigarettes on social media is unwarranted, and attempts to control or curb it are misguided. Social media is for everyone, and should be an open place for people to discuss all kinds of hobbies and interests.
Even though it makes some people uneasy, vaping’s presence on social media is definitely here to stay. This is a good thing, as vaping is a perfectly valid topic for discussion online and it may even help some smokers quit.
Adults should be allowed to engage with the people and communities they choose without censorship, just as they should be able to choose whether vaping is right for them.
Any potential risks to teens can be sufficiently mitigated by reasonable regulations and parental involvement in their teens’ online and real-world lives.
While parents should monitor and limit their children’s internet use to a certain extent, there is no way to shield children completely from adult-oriented content online. That’s why it’s up to parents and schools to educate teens about e-cigarettes and other types of content they are bound to encounter online.
That’s not to say that Facebook and other media companies should promote vaping content to kids; it’s clear that they should not ever push e-cigarette advertisements or posts to people who are underage.
However, organic, user-generated content should not be restricted, nor mistaken for having nefarious intentions.
Overall, the open exchange of information, about e-cigarettes and all sorts of other topics, is a value that we should all hold near and dear. Even as we want to protect our kids, we should also want them to grow up into a world free from undue censorship, where they have the freedom to share and access all kinds of information.