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Young people, alcohol and the media, 09/09/11 [W/E/NI/S]

09.09.11

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published the results of a study into the media representations of young people and alcohol, and the effect this might have.

Key findings from the study were:

  • Alcohol and drinking commonly featured in the media used by young people, and were mostly presented as normal and unproblematic. Negative consequences were infrequently presented, but tended to focus on extreme effects.
  • Images of alcohol differed by gender. Male-orientated media presented drinking as a way to shape masculine identity and form friendships. That targeted towards women focused on glamour and celebrity, while also suggesting that drinking was seen as less acceptable in women.
  • Social networking sites (SNS) formed part of young people’s drinking culture, documenting nights out but also informally ‘marketing’ alcohol products to their peers.
  • Celebrity behaviour was unlikely to influence alcohol consumption directly. Rather than emulating celebrities depicted drinking to excess, young people tended to dislike them.
  • Many young people had good insights into how the media represent alcohol. They rejected simplistic messages and understood that celebrity behaviour, including drinking, is largely constructed by editors and publicists to ‘tell a story’ and sell products. Parents’ and friends’ attitudes and behaviours were better predictors of young people’s alcohol use.

The full report is available from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation website.