A two-year study of more than 6,500 kids between the ages of 10 and 14 has found that watching lots of movies featuring alcohol doubles the likelihood that young teens will start drinking.
Reports US News & World Report:
After they adjusted for a number of factors, the researchers concluded that teens who watched the most movies featuring alcohol were twice as likely to start drinking and 63 percent more likely to progress to binge drinking than teens who watched the fewest of such movies.
Or as the authors of the study reported:
Like influenza, images in Hollywood movies begin in one region of the world then spread globally, where they may affect drinking behaviours among adolescents everywhere they are distributed.
Which is making people wonder if there should be restrictions on alcohol product placement in movies, just as it already is for cigarettes in the U.S.
Except, here’s the thing: Most of the movies that contain high levels of alcohol consumption and brand placement are Rated R movies.
Um, how come so many 10-14 year-olds appear to be watching Rated R movies? Or as the study’s authors suggested:
One approach to limiting MAE (movie alcohol exposure) could be through parental restriction on certain types of media, for example, R-rated movies, which contain high levels of drinking (90%) and brand placement (61%).
Now here’s where some might say “It’s up to the parents to monitor such things!” And then others say, “But some households are less equipped to monitor their kids’ movie viewing habits.” And then somebody tells a personal story about seeing “Animal House” by accident and then turning into an alcoholic. And then someone else says it was their choice, not John Belushi’s, who, someone else would say, was hardly a role model in real life.
But then there’s this interesting part of the study: Parents who drank and kept alcohol at home were associated with kids starting to drink, but not with the progression to binge drinking. That falls to movies, right? Well…, there’s that old cause-and-effect conundrum, or as US News & World Report noted:
While the researchers uncovered an association between alcohol use in movies and teen drinking, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Plus,there were other factors of statistic significance: parenting, rebelliousness, weekly spending money, alcohol availability at home, receptivity to alcohol marketing, parent alcohol use and school performance.
The bottom line:
- Don’t let your 10-14 year-olds watch Rated R movies.
- Don’t let them wear clothing that say “Bud Light” or “Absolut Drunk” on them.
- Don’t leave your booze lying around and don’t pound it in front of the kids.
Like influenza, these radical ideas just might spread.