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May 5, 2010

Do R-rated Movies Make Kids Want to Drink?

Recent study suggests a link between viewing R movies and early teen drinking


Researchers at Dartmouth Medical School recently announced the results of a study that suggests that middle schoolers (ages 10-14) who aren't allowed to watch R-rated movies are far less likely to start drinking alcohol than their peers who are allowed to watch such films.

Among those children whose parents let them watch R-rated movies "all the time," almost a quarter had tried a drink without their parents' knowledge, compared to just 3 percent who tried a drink among those who were "never allowed" to watch R-movies.

There are plenty of other good reasons to keep kids that young from R-rated movies, but now here's some more solid, quantifiable evidence that such decisions fall into realm of wise parental discernment.


I read the linked article and I know it says they controlled for parenting, but allowing students to watch a rated R movie is a parenting decision. It is likely to me that those households that allow rated R movies are also in general more permissive. And also likely that more permissive parents also have alcohol in the house. What I would like to see controlled for is whether the household has alcohol in the house. I know a number of parents that do not allow their kids to watch rated R movies. Some of the parents drink. But all of the parents that I know that allow their students to watch rated R movies drink. I think this is a correlation that has absolutely no causation.

The line of reasoning in this post appears to go like this: Increased watching of R-rated movies (A) seems to go along with increased underage drinking (B). Therefore, A caused B.

But correlation doesn't imply causation. Or, to put it more plainly, just because two things seem to happen together doesn't mean that one caused the other. I could just as easily argue that B caused A. Or it's possible that a third factor (C), like overall irresponsible parenting, caused both A and B.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that the conclusion made in the post is false. Just saying that it's unwarranted. We need more evidence before we can conclude that R-rated movies make kids want to drink.

Well, Adam beat me to the punch. Kudos, Adam!

Here's an idea: how about we teach kids about responsible drinking instead of demonizing those that drink? Seems to me that bandwagon Christianity gets has gotten Americans nowhere for many decades.