Common Sense Media

Addictive behaviors: Smoking, drinking and media

Alcohol ads affects underage drinking. Kids are bombarded with thousands of images of smoking in movies alone. Here is how parents can fight back.

Smoking, drinking, drugs, gaming. There's no gray area here: A direct and proven correlation exists between the onset of smoking and drinking and media exposure. Marketers consciously advertise directly or by embedding products in entertainment to foster brand awareness with young kids so that when they grow up, they'll gravitate to the branded products. It's not accidental that animated characters often sell products. (Remember Joe Camel?) Scenes of drinking, smoking and drug use in kids' media both model and normalize these behaviors, increasing the odds that kids will try them for themselves. But addiction risks also extend beyond substance use: Some kids — especially boys 11-19 — can get hooked on their computers, as well as multiplayer Internet games that are purposely designed to be highly addictive.

Why you should care:

Because alcohol advertising affects underage drinking behavior. Because kids are using drugs at younger and younger ages. Because kids, especially teens, are bombarded with thousands of images of smoking in movies alone. And because computer and Internet gaming addictions can harm kids' social interaction abilities. Staying immersed in electronic fantasies can cause them to miss meals and sleep and negatively impact homework and school attendance.

Some facts you should know:

Common Sense says:

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Common Sense Media is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping parents make informed media and entertainment choices for their families.