Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1441–1450 | Cite as

Parents, Peers, and Places: Young Urban Adolescents’ Microsystems and Substance Use Involvement

  • Michael MasonEmail author
  • Jeremy Mennis
  • John Light
  • Julie Rusby
  • Erika Westling
  • Stephanie Crewe
  • Thomas Way
  • Brian Flay
  • Nikola Zaharakis
Original Paper


Limited research is available that explains complex contextual and interactive effects of microsystems such as family relationships, peer networks, and place-based influences have on urban adolescent substance use. We contend that research into these complex processes is improved by integrating psychological, social, and geographic data to better understand urban adolescent substance use involvement. Accordingly, we tested a longitudinal, 3-way moderation model to determine if the direct effect of teen–parent relationships on substance use involvement is moderated by peer network characteristics, which in turn is moderated by the risk and protective attributes within urban adolescents’ activity spaces, among a sample of 248 adolescents. Results revealed that peer networks moderate the effects of relations with parents on substance use involvement for those adolescents with higher levels of risk attributes within their activity space, but not for those who spend time in locations with less risk. Thus, the teen–parent relationship interacts with peer network characteristics, for those urban adolescents whose activity space is constituted within high-risk environments. We conclude that peer networks have important interactive effects with family relationships that influence substance use, and that this is particularly salient for young adolescents who are exposed to risky environments. This finding underscores the importance of continued study into the interrelations among microsystems of urban adolescents, and provides further support that substance use is a social practice that is constituted within the unique geography of young adolescents’ lives.


Young adolescents Urban adolescents Microsytems Parents Peers Activity space 



This research was supported by a Grant No. 1R01 DA031724-01A1, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the first author. The findings and conclusions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, or National Institute of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Mason
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeremy Mennis
    • 1
  • John Light
    • 1
  • Julie Rusby
    • 1
  • Erika Westling
    • 1
  • Stephanie Crewe
    • 1
  • Thomas Way
    • 1
  • Brian Flay
    • 1
  • Nikola Zaharakis
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, Commonwealth Institute for Child and Family StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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