Music Media May Influence Young People to Drink Alcohol

While some adults who consume alcohol may be able to do so in moderation, others may develop an alcohol addiction that requires them to spend time in drug rehab. Research has show that while it can be difficult to pinpoint what factors will increase a person’s chances of having problems with alcohol, studies have found that kids who begin drinking before the age of 15 have an increased risk of experiencing problems with alcohol than individuals who start drinking later in life.

Teens choose to drink for a number of reasons. Some drink out of curiosity, while others do so because their friends are drinking and they want to fit in. For years scientists have been questioning whether the media may be influencing young people to consume alcohol. Recently, USA Today reported that researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a study to determine what alcohol brands are most prominently mentioned in popular music, and whether these lyrics may be glamorizing underage drinking.

Hard alcohol dominates
The researchers found that the four brands that are the most present in popular music are Jack Daniel’s whisky, Hennessy cognac, Grey Goose vodka and Patron tequila – all of which are hard alcohols. Furthermore, the study authors discovered that it is clear that these lyrics seem to be making underage drinking seem like a fun, carefree thing to do.

“The purpose of this line of research is to be used to start a discussion with students,” said study co-author Michael Siegel, professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University, quoted by the news source “On a brand level, [we want to] open up doors to young people so they start thinking about what social influences like pop culture have on their drinking decisions.”

Lauren Sarno, a senior at Wake Forest University, explained that people who have not tried alcohol before may be more likely to try the brands that they have heard of in music.
“For my generation and younger, it might contribute to underage drinking as celebrities endorse it in music videos,” Saro told the news source.

She added that many of these endorsements are paid, which is something that younger people may not realize.

Furthermore, study authors said that they are hoping young people will see this study and realize how the alcohol and music industries may be trying to manipulate them into purchasing certain brands.

According to an article published in October, 2013 by the Daily Mail, the problem of alcohol in popular music is not limited to the U.S. Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University counted the number of times alcohol is mentioned in songs that reached the U.K. top ten in 1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011. They discovered that the percentage of hits that mention alcohol went from 5.8 per cent in 1981 to 18.5 per cent in 2011.

It is important to note that the researchers did find that mentions of alcohol seemed to be most common in songs that came from the U.S. The scientists also found that in 2011, the number of songs depicting alcohol consumption as fun far outweighed the number that mentioned hangovers and other things that can come as a result of drinking too much.

Emily Robinson of Alcohol Concern told The Daily Mail that she believes younger people may think that their peers are drinking a lot more than they actually are because mentions of it are so prevalent in popular music and advertising for it appears to be everywhere.

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