The findings of a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has revealed that 15 year olds who watch more of movies where alcohol is consumed are more likely to be binge drink and suffer from alcohol related problems than their peers.
“Alcohol is a drug and it has potentially adverse effects, not only for individuals but also for family and friends,” the researchers explained. “It’s not very often that we see the adverse effects of alcohol portrayed—like vomiting, rotten hangovers,” she adds. “In my view, we don’t really get an accurate representation of what alcohol is like.”
The researchers surveyed 5163 15-year olds and asked them about their drinking habits. They then questioned them about a random selection of over 50 different popular movies and found that after controlling several factors such as gender, social class and parental alcohol consumption, the subjects who watched more of movies that displayed alcohol consumption were 20% more likely to try alcohol, and 70% more likely to binge drink.
These subjects were also twice as likely to drink more than once every week and be affected by alcohol related issues such as having encounters with the police or having their alcohol consumption interfere with their schoolwork.
This clearly points out to the need of taking into consideration movies that are made suitable for the young audience. The researchers further more than 72% of the most popular box office movies in the UK depicted drinking, but only 6% of them were classified for adult audiences only.
Infact, 49% of PG-13 rated films displayed more than 2 minutes of alcohol use.
“My guess is that there needs to be a level of identification with the drinker in the film,” the researchers believe. And she believes kids are more likely to identify with consuming characters “in films where alcohol use is made to look cool, get you friends, win the girl or boy.”
They stress on the importance of the need of a change in movie ratings so as to make it suitable for young viewers.
“Adverse outcomes from alcohol use are a large societal public health problem,” the researchers conclude, “and rating films according to alcohol content may reduce problem-related alcohol use and associated harm in young people.”