Kids Who Watch R-Rated Movies Are More Likely to Drink, Study Says
Ever wonder if you're a bit over protective about what you let your child watch? Think the other parents roll their eyes behind your back? Well, vindication is yours: A new study shows that middle schoolers who aren't allowed to watch R-rated films are significantly less likely to start drinking than their peers whose parents are less restrictive.
Researchers from the Dartmouth Medical School identified nearly 3,600 New England middle school students who said they had never had a drink. In a follow-up survey conducted 13 to 26 months later, only 3 percent of the kids whose parents never let them see R-rated films said they had started drinking, compared with 19 percent of those whose parents "sometimes" let them watch such films and 25 percent whose parents did "all the time," according to the article, published in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
To make sure the lower drinking rates weren't a result of more careful parenting in general, the researchers accounted for such involvement by asking questions that gauged how responsive and how demanding kids thought their parents were. Even considering those factors, exposure to R-rated films was still linked to the likelihood of early drinking.
Such films put kids at risk not only because 90 percent of them depict drinking, but also because kids who watch R-rated movies become more prone to "sensation seeking," according to the researchers.
"We think seeing the adult content actually changes their personality," the study's lead author, Dr. James Sargent, says in a statement.
The authors concede that their sample was largely white, and write that similar studies should be conducted among a more diverse group of children.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.