We’ve heard about the studies suggesting young children who taste wine or beer are more likely to abuse alcohol as teens, but what about kids who just happen to see grownups imbibing on TV? A new study now reveals that when teens watch alcohol being consumed in movies they are more likely to guzzle the stuff than kids who see less drinking on screen.
You might think nothing of your 15 year old watching Homer Simpson sip on his “Duff” beer or James Bond ordering up one of his famous martinis, but now research suggests these types of images can have an effect on a teen’s alcohol consumption. Time reports about the study published in the journal Pediatrics that finds 15-year-olds who watch more movies depicting alcohol consumption are more likely to have already tried booze, binge drink and even suffer alcohol related problems.
Studies in the past have suggested that actors seen smoking in movies often influence teens to try cigarettes so it’s no wonder that drinking may have the same effect. When drinking is depicted in movies we rarely get a glimpse of the adverse health effects so teens are just left with a very positive image of drinking. Lead author of the study Andrea Waylen explains, “Alcohol is a drug and it has potentially adverse effects, not only for individuals but also for family and friends. It’s not very often that we see the adverse effects of alcohol portrayed—like vomiting, rotten hangovers. In my view, we don’t really get an accurate representation of what alcohol is like.”
Researchers involved in the study looked at data counting the amount of time more than 5,000 15-year-olds teens had seen actors drinking alcohol in movies. They controlled for factors like parents’ alcohol use and social class and found that teens who watched the most amount of booze on film were 20% more likely to have tried alcohol and a whopping 70% more likely to take part in binge drinking.
Due to the correlation between boozy movies and teens, Waylen warns that officials in charge of rating films should seriously consider giving movies that depict drinking a more adult rating. The study concludes, “Adverse outcomes from alcohol use are a large societal public health problem and rating films according to alcohol content may reduce problem-related alcohol use and associated harm in young people.”
What do you think of the study that suggests teens who watch movies where drinking is depicted are more likely to binge drink?
Do you think seeing drinking in movies influences kids to try alcohol earlier?