Teenagers are often susceptible to peer pressure, negative comments, insecurities about their bodies, personalities and minds. There is evidence that alcohol-related TV ads are potentially harmful to teenagers as well. A new study shows that exposure to television ads that show alcohol increase the likelihood of adolescents picking up a drink. Further study also shows that those adolescents that are more likely to pick up a drink are also more likely to engage in risky and dangerous behavior when it comes to alcohol.
Currently, alcohol companies are self-regulating their ads when it comes to underage drinkers. This means that the companies are taking it upon themselves to keep their ads away from young viewers and thereby prevent them from being persuaded to drink because of the advertisements.
For years now, alcohol companies have claimed that their ads are shown on channels and at times when teenagers are not likely to be present. “Alcohol companies claim their advertising does not affect underage drinking – that instead it is parents and friends that are the culprits. This study suggests otherwise: that underage youths are exposed to and engaged by alcohol marketing, and this prompts initiation of drinking as well as transitions from trying to hazardous drinking,” explained James D. Sargent, a pediatrician and a pediatric oncology professor at Dartmouth University.
According to the study, viewers between the ages of 15 and 17 were over 23% likely to see televised ads relating to alcohol, that number is similar to viewers between the ages of 18 and 20. Despite what the marketing companies for alcohol beverages claim, both age groups are as likely to see these ads as those between the ages of 21 and 23. These numbers illustrate the discrepancy between what the alcohol companies are claiming and reality. Children are just as likely to view ads selling alcohol as those that are of drinking age.
Because of the familiarity with advertisements relating to alcohol, children are more receptive to alcohol. Researchers point out that a correlation between viewing these ads and binge drinking exists. 29% of children between the age of 15 and 17 report binge drinking, and 18% admit to risky behavior when it comes to alcohol.