Virtual Networks Study


  • Principal Investigator: Marc Zimmerman, PhD, UM SPH
  • Co-Principal Investigator: José Bauermeister, MPH, PhD, UM SPH
  • Project Dates: 2009 – 2012
  • Funding Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse


The use of Internet applications (email, IM, social networking websites) has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, and is expected to continue growing, both in the US and internationally. With approximately 70 million users per day in the US alone, the Internet has become a salient medium to interact with others through chat rooms and social networking sites. The Virtual Networks Study aims to understand the Internet’s role in young adults’ risk-taking behaviors.

Parallel to the escalation of the e-technology, researchers have sought to understand the Internet’s role role in young adults risk taking behaviors. The Virtual Networks Study is informed by a Social Influence and Integration Model, and seeks to examine how the use of the internet influences youths substance use and sex behaviors. We also aim to contribute to the growing body of Internet-based research methods by examining innovative recruitment strategies to maximize the internal and external validity of web-based findings from an ethnically-diverse sample of youth transitioning into young adulthood (ages 18 to 24).

Journal Articles