User-generated YouTube videos that depict the overconsumption of alcohol are receiving hundreds of millions of views, according to a study titled Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, reports NPR.
The videos portray being dangerously intoxicated as funny, without including warnings about the serious consequences of binge drinking, such as fatal alcohol poisoning and drunk driving accidents.
Dr. Brian Primack, the study’s lead author, and his colleagues observed a cross-section of 70 YouTube videos that received over 330 million views. They noted that although alcohol companies do not sponsor the users uploading these videos, many videos still tend to refer to specific brands, giving the alcoholic beverage companies free advertising.
YouTube is not the only form of media perpetuating unsafe messages about drinking. Popular social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram are also filled with photos and videos that depict heavy drinking as a fun social norm. Videos with more likes or comments might easily sway how a young person perceives drinking.
Dr. Siegel, a professor of community health at Boston University, suggests that parents and educators should encourage young adults to think critically about the media content they are exposed to. “By actually understanding and talking about it, kids become resistant to these messages,” Siegel says, “they’ll be able to see that these portrayals online aren’t realistic.” [NPR] [Photo: Flickr.com/naiadsspring]