The more exposure to alcohol ads, the greater the chances of kids consuming alcohol

A kid watching TV alone in the living room
EJ
Emeh Joy

Greater exposure to alcohol ads increases the amount of alcohol that kids consume, a study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs says.

You might think because they are kids, they don't pay attention, but really they do. I don't think adults have more retentive memory than children.

You ever wondered how they know the names of all the cartoon characters they watch? Don't be deceived, they learn easily!

That explains why parents are cautioned to watch what they do before their young ones. Some couples have mentioned that their kids know the names of several beers even though they (the parents) do not drink beer.

There, you now see that advertising has that power over children. With the release of a study showing a direct link between a kids' exposure to alcohol adverts and how much of those drink brands they consume, do you need more proof?

What does the alcohol ads study say?

The study was carried out using a sample of more than 1000 teens aged 13 to 20 years who said they had consumed alcohol across the United States in the past month.

Teens watching TV: Research shows the more children see alcohol ads, the more alcohol they consume

Researchers asked them if they had watched any of the 20 most popular non-sports TV shows and the amount of alcohol they consumed out of the 61 alcohol brands showcased in commercials during those shows.

The researchers discovered that the underaged drinkers who didn't see any alcohol ads took about 14 drinks per month. The figure increased to 33 per month for those who had seen an average amount of alcohol commercials.

The underage drinkers who were exposed to more of the alcohol ads, drank more than 200 drinks in a month. However, a few of them in the study drank that much.

Since kids who watched more television were more likely to drink, researchers concluded that the more exposed kids are to the alcohol ads, the higher the amount of those brands they consumed.

Another similar study found that children between ages 11 and 14 typically watch two to four alcohol ads per day.

Dr Timothy Naimi, the lead researcher on the alcohol ad study and an associate professor at Boston University's Schools of Medicine and Public Health, said:

"I think the message is that this adds to evidence that alcohol advertising matters in terms of youth drinking and it demonstrates good support for the idea that alcohol advertising is not only related to which brands kids might choose to drink but how much they choose to drink in total".

Parents are the greatest influence on a child's drinking

Is drinking at home with your kids around a good idea?

It is true the saying that kids will pretty much copy what they see their parents do and are likely to act like their parents.

Ralph Blackman, the president and chief executive officer of Responsibility.org, a non-profit organization committed to reducing drunken driving and underage drinking, spoke about this.

He said even though he and his team were not able to review the findings of the study to determine their validity, he agreed that beyond advertising, parents play the biggest role in determining whether a kid will drink or not and a kid's drinking habit.

According to a 2016 Roper Youth report (PDF), parents wield 71 times more influence over their children's decision to drink when compared with the power advertising wields over them.

"While alcohol expenditures have increased, the truth of the matter is that the rate of underage drinking continues to decline", Blackman also said.

It is a good thing that the alcohol industry is a self-regulatory industry with manufacturers having guidelines such as limiting ads to certain programs. However, some alcohol companies still don't follow their guidelines.

Perhaps, a study like this would cause a change in the negligence of the guidelines and would cause penalties to be put in place for violations of the guidelines.

This article also passes a message to the parents. You should realize that you, as a parent, has much influence on your children's decision to drink or not. You should have that alcohol conversation with them even at an early age; it is not a taboo!.

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