Parents who carefully check to see if a movie contains profanity, violence or sex before allowing their children to go have another worry: Alcohol.
No, movie theaters aren’t serving it to minors, as far as we know. But a recent study shows that alcohol consumption is featured in a steadily growing number of movies rated acceptable for youth.
Further, evidence indicates childhood exposure to alcohol or tobacco use in movies is linked to actual smoking and alcohol abuse.
Fortunately, fewer movies feature tobacco being used, according to researchers at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University. One reason is likely that in 1998, cigarette manufacturers agreed not to target youth as customers. Brand placements in movies meant for youth have decreased by 7 percent each year since then.
But alcohol appears significantly more often. In 1998, 80 alcohol products were featured in youth-rated movies. This number has jumped to 145 a year.
According to the study, pubilshed by JAMA Pediatrics, that increase could put more children at risk of teen drinking.
Summer’s here with its new movies, a significant number presumably swimming in booze. But standard ratings don’t deal with alcohol or cigarette use.
Maybe this is the year parents should turn away from movies and focus on making sure their children finish their summer reading lists early.