Children in the U.S are seeing less tobacco on TV thanks to tougher regulations. However, they are seeing more alcohol in movies and in advertisements. The research team examined 1,400 movies and the effect of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement on their content. According to an article published in AMA Pediatrics, the tobacco brand appearances and images drop by 7 percent on an annual basis. At the same time, alcohol advertisements skyrocket by 145 percent each year. Tobacco and alcohol placements are associated with alcohol abuse and drinking and smoking at a young age. In other words, children and teenagers who watch teen-rated films with alcohol images are more likely to experiment and drink alcohol.
What are the symptoms of alcohol abuse? Those who have a drinking problem black out and hide their drinking habits. They feel ashamed, nervous, and guilty about their drinking. Many people drink to feel better and to relax. Impaired control, excessive use, and neglect of work, school, and other responsibilities and activities are also signs of alcohol abuse. Spending a lot of time in alcohol-related activities is also a sign that there is something wrong. The problem is that some drinking patterns are harmful and risky.
The new study has important implications. The reason is that people who start drinking at an early age are at a higher risk for developing a drinking problem. Tougher regulations may be required to limit advertisements, images, and depictions of alcohol. Self-regulation doesn’t seem to work. The researchers also recommend that parents watch movies together with their kids. This way, they can discuss what they see. Parents can try to explain the effects of drinking (impaired judgment, poor coordination and vision, bad breath, etc.) Discussing the long-term effects of drinking is also a good idea. These include memory loss, stomach problems, liver cancer, cirrhosis, and others. Emphasize that there is a risk of overdosing while impaired judgment often leads to risky behaviors and accidents. Age-appropriate and honest communication will set the stage for discussing other serious problems.