A study published Tuesday suggests that tweens and teens who view movies that feature alcohol scenes are twice as likely to start drinking, and in addition are more likely to progress to binge drinking.
For two years Professor James Sargent and his colleagues at Dartmouth Medical School studied more than 6,500 U.S. teenagers between the ages of 10 and 14.
The researchers found those adolescents who had viewed movies that included alcohol related scenes began imbibing at a rate of more than double (a rise of 11 percent to 25 percent), while those who began binge drinking (an amount of five or more drinks in a row) tripled from four percent to 13 percent after watching films that featured alcohol consumption.
Participants were surveyed about which movies they had viewed, taken from a list of those in the top 100 U.S. box-office, in each of the five years preceding 2003, plus an additional group of films that grossed more than $15 million in the first quarter of 2003.
The researchers determined the length of time of onscreen alcohol use in the films, and assessed that the young adults had watched approximately 4.5 hours of onscreen alcohol use.
The study may serve as a warning to parents that they need to scrutinize the film content their children and teens are watching.
“The effect of movie exposure on progression derives from the fact that alcohol use in movies is typically modeled in positive situations, without negative effects, and often shown with alcohol brands, which consolidates both the adolescent’s identity as a drinker and brand allegiance,” the authors indicated.
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