Publication Details

Title :

Relationship of media exposure to substance use among adolescents in Saudi Arabia: results from a national study


Drug and Alcohol Dependence

Impact Factor:



AlaaAlSayyari a, FadiaAlBuhairan a b c d


a King Abdullah International Medical Research Center, King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Population Health Research Section-Hospital-MNGHA, Ali Al Arini, Ar Rimayah, Riyadh 14611, KSA, Saudi Arabia

b King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, College of Medicine-Hospital-MMNGHA, Ali Al Arini, Ar Rimayah, Riyadh, 14611, KSA, Saudi Arabia

c King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital, Department of Pediatrics-Hospital-NGHA, Electric Bus Line, Ar Rimayah, Riyadh, 14611, KSA, Saudi Arabia

d Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD, 21205, USA

Year of Publication:






With limited social options, young Saudis are increasingly relying on media for entertainment. The media impact has been greatest among the younger generation, which constitutes half of the population of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Therefore, this study aims to examine the association between exposure to varied types of media and substance use among adolescents in the KSA and explores whether these associations differ by gender.


Data were obtained from a national cross-sectional survey of school students aged ten to 19 years (N = 12121). A self-administered questionnaire was used to assess exposure to three types of media: television, the Internet and video games with the use of legal substances such as cigarette/shisha smoking, solvents sniffing and misuse of medications, and illegal substances, such as alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs.


Logistic regression analyses revealed that the odds of using tobacco, legal and illegal substances were higher for students who were watching television, surfing the Internet, or playing video games for more than two hours compared with their peers who watched less than two hours (P < 0.05). For males, results showed the heavy and light use of the Internet were both significantly associated with smoking. Whereas for females, only excessive use of the Internet was associated with smoking.


Despite the conservative nature of the Saudi society, findings showed a significant association between tobacco or substance use and media exposure among adolescents. This suggests increased attention to the growing role media might play in shaping adolescents health risk behaviors in the KSA.