The Effects of the Media on Underage Alcohol Abuse
It is a major aspect of our culture and many others, being used in religious ceremonies, for
celebration, and during common socialization, its presence is seen everywhere. It is alcohol.
Alcohol is the broad term that society gives to such drinks as wine, beer, and hard liquor because it
contains ethyl alcohol. Despite the fact that in the past century alone, alcohol has been denounced,
accepted, and outlawed, we still see alcohol everywhere in magazines, television, billboards, and
The effects of alcohol are numerous and reach a widespread of people in the following ways:
drunk driving accidents, fetal alcohol syndrome, liver disease, and increased risk of sexually
transmitted diseases. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, also called the
NIAAA, state in their article called Alcohol Alert that, Alcohol contributes to 100,000 deaths
annually, making it the third leading cause of preventable casualty (2).
In addition, Gary Hopkins,
MD, director of The Center for Adolescent Behavior Research at Andrews University, found that
41% of all traffic fatalities, the leading cause of accidental death, are alcohol-related (n.p.). Alcohol
is a significant problem in todays society, it isnt limited to any particular age group, but one age
group of great concern is those that are under twenty-one years.
The Century Council is a group started in 1991 to fight underage drinking and alcohol abuse.
According to Fighting Alcohol Abuse, the Century Councils website, most young people do not
drink illegally, the number who do is high enough to make underage drinking a serious safety and
p.). The Century Council continues with sixth graders in saying, one in fourteen
sixth graders drink monthly(n.p.). They go on to talk about eighth graders and thier drinking habits.
One in four eighth graders have drank in the last month, one in six have reported binge drinking,
and one in ten got drunk while drinking(n.p.). Binge drinking is drinking heavily in a short amount
of time and can result in alcohol poisining sometimes resulting in death. If that is shocking, maybe
the statistic that one in two high school seniors drink on a monthly basis(n.p.
). These statistics
again prove a serious problem, but what is the root?
In a society where children are able to identify more brands of beer than American Presidents,
there is a definite problem. The root to the dangerous mix of alcholol and todays youth is the
media. The increase in underage alcohol consumption is a direct and indirect result of the medias
influence in children and teenagers. The same study by the NIAAA showed that when a group of
nine to eleven year olds were asked what Tony the Tiger said when he appears on television
advertisements, then asked what those talking frogs, spokescritters for Budweiser, said, they were
able to respond to the latter much faster (1). Clearly, these ads are leaving an impression on young
These advertisements are targeting teenagers heavily during prime-time television and during
A large portion of a television program is its commercials. Commercials praise this soft
drink because it is richer, that brand of potato chips because they are crispier, and those khakis
because people can line-dance in them. The commercials are colorful and loud, featuring the
beautiful people: models, rock stars, athletes, actors, and actresses that society have come to make
their role models. Every company is spending millions of dollars to get the most renowned
characters, people, cartoons, or animals to appeal so that we will buy their products. These are the
same targeting tactics used in alcohol advertisements as well.
Statistics from P.
A. Madden and J.W. Grubes research Frequency and Nature of Alcohol
and Tobacco Advertisements on Television Sports from the American Journal of Public Health says
that the beer brewing industry spends six million dollars each year on television and radio
advertisements. As well, they spend ninety million dollars a year on print advertisements (298).
Aside from that, they get less obvious advertisements.
When watching a movie, people drink a
certain soda, eat at certain fast food restaurants, and wear a particular brand of clothing to try to
sway the public to buy the same things. When looking at exactly whom the television and movie
industry is targeting, consider the audience that is watching. Television shows such as Dawsons
Creek and Beverly Hills 90210 are aimed primarily at teenagers. Many times they urge abstinence of
habit-forming substances to teenagers. .