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Children Who Watch R Rated Movies Are More Likely To Drink Alcohol

Middle school aged children with parents who allow them to watch R rated movies are far more likely to drink alcohol in the coming young teenage years than kids who aren’t allowed to watch such adult content.

Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire questioned 3600 middle school students about the kinds of movies they were allowed to watch at home, as well as about the kind of parental discipline they received and about family life in general. They then revisited these kids between 13 and 26 months after this first interview to find out how many of these kids had since started drinking.

The Results

  • 3% of kids whose parents never allowed them to watch R rated movies had started drinking
  • 19% of kids whose parents sometimes allowed them to watch R rated movies had started drinking
  • 25% of kids whose parents always allowed them to watch R rated movies had started drinking.

The researchers controlled for variables that would also affect age of first alcohol use, such as parenting styles and other factors.

Lead researcher Dr. James D. Sargent says that 90% of R rated movies portray alcohol use in some way, as well as other adult types of content. He says that this alone may influence experimentation, but that children exposed to adult media content may also become more prone to sensation seeking and risk taking behaviors in general. He asserts, "We think seeing the adult content actually changes their personality.”

In his closing recommendations, Sargent offers some advice to parents, saying, "The research to date suggests that keeping kids from R-rated movies can help keep them from drinking, smoking and doing a lot of other things that parents don't want them to do."

The full research results can be read in the May edition of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs

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