Teen Roundtable: Do movies with teen drinking make teens drink more?
For our Teen Roundtable series, we ask our brilliant, talented teen contributors to weigh in on everything from promposals to Disney remakes. This week, we asked our panel of teens about something a little more serious though. According to a new study released by the journal Pediatrics, teens who watch movies in which alcohol is consumed are more likely to drink themselves. Not only are these teens more like to try alcohol, the study says, they’re also more likely to binge drink and even develop drinking problems.
Whoa. That’s harrowing information and a lot to think about. We were curious though, what our teen contributors thought of the study. Did they agree with the results? Was it in line with their personal experiences and what they noticed in their peers? Check out what they had to say:
“I think that this study is completely false! I feel far more influenced to drink when a classmate makes a joke or a comment about drinking and gets lots of laughs from it. Peer pressure is an extremely powerful thing, MUCH more powerful than the media. Never have I watched Sixteen Candles and wanted to wasted, and they do A LOT of stuff in that movie. I know that teen drinking is extremely dangerous and had many consequences, and nothing — especially a movie — can take everything that I’ve been taught out of my head. I think that Hollywood’s efforts to glamorize drinking has failed, along with this survey.” – Savannah Martin, 16.
“It makes sense to me, teens easily identify with characters on screen that they see elements of themselves in — I’m guilty of it! So when we see those characters we identify with drinking, we tend to start imitating that kind of behavior. The results of the study are what I’d expect, teens tend to find a character they like to look up to in films, and try to be like them. I find myself doing it sometimes, not always with drinking. Sometimes I’ll do something and think “that was very Amelie!” But it’s something teens do, whether it’s bad habits or good habits they see in films!” – Ella Minker, 18.
“I think that teens are pretty well aware of the cognitive effects of drinking and the other physical repercussions. What’s a bigger part is the sensationalization of drinking in movies. I think that the problem stems also (though no doubt less) from the fact that people just think that alcohol abuse is the norm, and that they are in the minority if they don’t engage in these types of activities. But it’s completely possible to find circles of friends who don’t drink, and I think that’s something that’s underrepresented in the media. Of my own friends, for example, not many drink. I would say that there’s more activity with marijuana use than alcohol consumption. But the majority of my friends do neither (including me, because my brain is kinda important to me). ” – Megan Phelps, 15.
“I understand why, because in reality a lot of teenagers do drink. But it should also be an acceptable choice in those movies not to drink. Just like virgins are sorta made fun of in movies, people who don’t drink kind of are, too.” – Kait Wilbur, 16.
“It’s clear that TV and movies do have an effect IRL in a lot of aspects. It was in part sitcoms and movies that changed sex and the way it’s percieved, they even alter the way we talk and dress so I guess it’s no surprise that alcohol in movies does the same thing. I think movies are made to reflect life, but that means that they are a standard of cultural norms and life starts to reflect movies instead. They then become like education on adulthood for kids so I think the key is to portray drinking and other facets of life realistically.” – Kate Pettersen, 15.
“I think it’s somewhat true. When some teens see other teens drinking on TV they don’t instantly go grab a drink. Watching other teens drink on TV kinda gets you used to seeing it ,or it becomes a bit normal for you in a sense. It doesn’t influence you immediately, but it does make you associate teen drinking as something casual. Since the drinking is in a casual setting during movies and TV shows. This doesn’t majorly effect teens who come from a strong family background and support system. But I can image a teen who doesn’t have the best support system being easily influenced by such a small thing on television.” – Avianne Robinson, 16.
(Image via here.)