Questionable study links early alcohol use to R-rated movies

Hmm. I'm as skeptical about this headline as you are, but a recent study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drug is suggesting that watching R-rated movies may lead to increased alcohol use in teens.

Researchers questioned nearly 3,600 middle-school children in New England and followed-up about two years later. In that time, 3 percent of the kids who said their parents never allowed them to watch R-rated movies said they had started drinking alcohol, compared with 19 percent of those who were sometimes allowed to watch R-rated movies and 25 percent of those who said they were allowed to watch such movies "all the time."

He added that the new findings supplement the work of previous studies that have linked exposure to R-rated movies and shows with adult content to early drinking, early smoking, sex at a young age and violent behavior.

"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," Sargent said.

Uh, alright, so I’m not a scientific researcher here, but I’m calling bullshit on this. They seem to be suggesting here that it’s the R-rated movies are causing these other behaviors, but I took enough statistics classes in college to understand that correlation does not equal causation.

Here's my explanation: Parents who don’t let their children watch R-rated movies are as a rule, generally pretty strict parents. This in turn means its likely they enforce other strict behaviors on their children, early curfews, no attendance at unsupervised parties and things like that. Contrastingly, a parent who doesn’t care if their twelve year old is watching LAST HOUSE OF THE LEFT may not care as much about other preventative measures that protect their child against the “evils” of alcohol, drugs and sex.

I think this is much more a referendum on parenting styles than it is kids being influenced by movies. Kids will drink because their friends do, not because they saw The Dude do it in THE BIG LEBOWSKI.

Stupid scientists.

Extra Tidbit: True story: I wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies until I moved out of my parent’s house. I think this adequately explains what I do for a living.
Source: BusinessWeek



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