Teens who watch movies and TV shows that depict alcohol consumption are far more likely to drink themselves, a new European study has found.
Researchers, writing in the journal Pediatrics, said the findings suggest makers of TV shows and movies should treat drinking the same way they treat tobacco use, which has long been politically unacceptable in the media.
Researchers surveyed more than 16,500 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 in six European countries -- Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Poland and Scotland -- about their alcohol consumption and potential sources of influence, including movies they had watched, marketing, home environment, peer pressure and personal rebellion.
Investigators then measured the on-screen alcohol use in 50 recent box office movie blockbusters. Based on their calculations, researchers found that the adolescents viewed about 4.5 hours of on-screen alcohol use on average, with many viewing more than eight hours.
They also concluded that teens who had been exposed to the most on-screen alcohol use were more likely as their peers to begin drinking and engage in binge drinking.
Researchers also found that parental drinking habits and alcohol in the home were motivators for teens to drink, but did not necessarily cause them to progress to binge drinking.