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R-rated films cause early drinking

Children, whose parents restrict access to R-rated movies, are substantially less likely to start drinking early as compared to their peers who are allowed to see such films.

india Updated: Apr 27, 2010 11:00 IST

Middle-school children, whose parents restrict access to R-rated movies, are substantially less likely to start drinking early than their peers who are allowed to see such films, a new study suggests.

In a study of nearly 3,600 New England middle school students, researchers found that few among kids who said their parents never allowed them to watch R (restricted) movies took up drinking over the next couple of years. Of that group, three per cent said they had started drinking when questioned 13 to 26 months after the initial survey.

Nineteen per cent of their peers said their parents "sometimes" let them see R-rated films, one-quarter of students said their parents allowed such movies "all the time."

The researchers said the findings underscore the importance of parents paying close attention to their children's media exposure.

"We think this is a very important aspect of parenting and one that is often overlooked," said James D. Sargent, professor of paediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The current findings build on evidence linking children's exposure to R-rated movies and onscreen "adult" content in general not only to early drinking but also to early smoking and kids' likelihood of having sex or behaving violently.
"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.

He pointed out that it could be argued that parents who restrict access to R movies are simply more careful in general -- keeping tabs on their children's friends or making sure their kids have no access to alcohol at home, for instance.
Ninety percent of R-rated films have depictions of drinking and that may be one reason that middle-schoolers who see the films are more vulnerable to early drinking, says a release of Dartmouth Medical School.

The American Academy of Paediatrics currently recommends that children watch no more than one to two hours of "quality" media, including movies, TV and videos, each day.

These findings are slated for publication in the May issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs