Critical thinking skills for kids are crucial: The lure of Superbowl alcohol ads

2 Feb

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Aside from the action on the field at the Superbowl, many folks tune into the game because of the half-time show and the over-the-top commercials. Critical thinking skills are lacking in many adults. Chldren not only may lack critical thinking skills, but may make poor choices because of their lack of maturity. Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH writes in the Seattle Children’s Hospital article, Alcohol Ads and Teen Drinking:

A recent article in the journal Pediatrics looked at 4,000 students in 7th grade and asked about alcohol use and alcohol ads on TV. They surveyed the teens through 10th grade. Though the number of teens participating decreased over time, they found some scary results. For both boys and girls, increasing exposure to alcohol ads over time and liking what they saw was associated with more alcohol use from 7th to 10th grade.  They also assessed alcohol related problems, like trouble with school, and found a significant association among boys and ads.

These results show that ads can affect behavior. So what can a parent do?

  1. limit screen time and exposure to mature subject matter. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to 2 hours a day. This helps decrease exposure, but also encourages teens to do something active with their time.

  2. Use the ads as an opportunity to talk about drug use. Let teens know that what they see in these ads is not reality. Talk about the dangers of alcohol. Short term effects include difficulty in school, possible alcohol poisoning, increased risk taking and long term include health problems like liver and heart disease.

  3. Set limits and talk about consequences before you need them. See our posts on the ‘free phone call‘ and ‘ground rules.’ Talk with your teen about expectations of their behavior and let them help decide on consequences if they break the rules.

  4. Check out our previous post on how to talk to your teen about drugs and alcohol for tips.

  5. If you’re worried your teen has a problem with alcohol or other drugs, talk with your teen’s health care provider.


Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems

  1. Jerry L. Grenard, PhDa,
  2. Clyde W. Dent, PhDb, and
  3. Alan W. Stacy, PhDa

+ Author Affiliations

  1. aSchool of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, California; and
  2. bOffice of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology, Oregon Department of Human Services, Portland, Oregon

OBJECTIVE: This study used prospective data to test the hypothesis that exposure to alcohol advertising contributes to an increase in underage drinking and that an increase in underage drinking then leads to problems associated with drinking alcohol.

METHODS: A total of 3890 students were surveyed once per year across 4 years from the 7th through the 10th grades. Assessments included several measures of exposure to alcohol advertising, alcohol use, problems related to alcohol use, and a range of covariates, such as age, drinking by peers, drinking by close adults, playing sports, general TV watching, acculturation, parents’ jobs, and parents’ education.

RESULTS: Structural equation modeling of alcohol consumption showed that exposure to alcohol ads and/or liking of those ads in seventh grade were predictive of the latent growth factors for alcohol use (past 30 days and past 6 months) after controlling for covariates. In addition, there was a significant total effect for boys and a significant mediated effect for girls of exposure to alcohol ads and liking of those ads in 7th grade through latent growth factors for alcohol use on alcohol-related problems in 10th grade.

CONCLUSIONS: Younger adolescents appear to be susceptible to the persuasive messages contained in alcohol commercials broadcast on TV, which sometimes results in a positive affective reaction to the ads. Alcohol ad exposure and the affective reaction to those ads influence some youth to drink more and experience drinking-related problems later in adolescence.

Published online January 28, 2013 Pediatrics Vol. 131 No. 2 February 1, 2013
pp. e369 -e379
(doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1480)

  1. » Abstract

  2. Full Text

  3. Full Text (PDF)

Moi wrote in Johns Hopkins University study: Advertising affects alcohol use by children:

Moi discussed alcohol use among teens in Seattle Children’s Institute study: Supportive middle school teachers affect a kid’s alcohol use:

Substance abuse is a serious problem for many young people. The Centers for Disease Control provide statistics about underage drinking in the Fact Sheet: Underage Drinking:

Underage Drinking

Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem.1 Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.2 More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.2 On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers.3 In 2008, there were approximately 190,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.4

Drinking Levels among Youth

The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey5 found that among high school students, during the past 30 days

  • 42% drank some amount of alcohol.

  • 24% binge drank.

  • 10% drove after drinking alcohol.

  • 28% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.

Other national surveys indicate

  • In 2008 the National Survey on Drug Use and HealthExternal Web Site Icon reported that 28% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 19% reported binge drinking.6

  • In 2009, the Monitoring the Future SurveyExternal Web Site Icon reported that 37% of 8th graders and 72% of 12th graders had tried alcohol, and 15% of 8th graders and 44% of 12th graders drank during the past month.7

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Youth who drink alcohol1, 3, 8 are more likely to experience

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.

  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.

  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.

  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.

  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.

  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.

  • Physical and sexual assault.

  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide.

  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.

  • Memory problems.

  • Abuse of other drugs.

  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

  • Death from alcohol poisoning.

In general, the risk of youth experiencing these problems is greater for those who binge drink than for those who do not binge drink.8

Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after age 21 years.9, 10

See, Alcohol Use Among Adolescents and Young  Adults

The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hairstyling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. Many boys look at the buff bodies of the men in the ads and don’t realize that some use body enhancing drugs. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe. It is easy for children to get derailed because of peer pressure in an all too permissive society. Parents and schools must teach children critical thinking skills and point out often that the picture presented in advertising is often as close to reality as the bedtime fairy tail. Reality does not often involve perfection, there are warts.

See, Admongo

and How to Help a Child With Critical Thinking Skills

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr.

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