Substance Abuse in Media
Efforts placed by the parents, schools including the federal government in trying to keep away the teenagers and children from drugs have been consistently fought by the prescription advertisement of these drugs. Programs and the movies that people watch from the television contain much of the images on substance use. Differing from the traditional advertising, the depictions from the media regarding the legal drugs do not invite any criticism since they are regarded to be positive and not as an advert. The outcome portrays mixed massages to young people about these substances, significantly contributed by the media (Hornik, Jacobson, Orwin, Piesse & Kalton, 2008).
Alcohol and tobacco are drugs in America that pose a great danger to the children and teenagers even when the illegal drugs take toll in the American society. The two legal drugs represent among the drugs that teenagers used as gateway drugs. For instance, a teenager at an adolescent stage who uses tobacco or alcohol has a higher percentage of about 65 percent to use marijuana than those who abstain from these legal drugs. It is evident that using these drugs at a younger age results into serious health problems. Several studies conducted found out that more Americans die from cigarette related illness, with more deaths attributed to excessive consumption of alcohol. Use of drugs at adolescent stages also results into risky behaviors such as involving in sexual activities.
The influence of the advertising power to children and the adolescents has become incontrollable. Companies spend million of dollars on advertisement in order to gain from that advert. Many of these adverts involve celebrity endorsers or young models who are more like role models to children and adolescents. Some of these adverts represent use of drugs as a normal activity functioning as a super peer encouraging the peers to experiment on the substance abuse. The teenagers hold advertisement, according to researches responsible for nearly 30 percent of tobacco or alcohol use. There are more funding in the advertisement of tobacco, estimated to be half of the total amount that the National Institute of Health is using in the study of the health aspects. The industry of tobacco has been using campaign systematic that has been on the forefront of attracting underage smokers for decades. For instance, it is estimated that 50 percent of the total smokers begin smoking at the age of 13 years and 90 percent begin smoking at the age of 19 years old. More deaths have been reported because of tobacco use, approximated to be 1200 deaths per day, and half of these deaths are reported to be middle-aged adults. Statistics show that, given the age gap of smoking habits, the tobacco industry seem to encourage recruitment of a smoking young people, and they have succeeded (Mo Bahk, 2001).
Advertisement of cigarette has increased teenagers to risks of smoking by trying to glamorizing smoking and smokers. The contrast is that the adverse smoking consequences have been shown resulting into the US Surgeon General (1994) to conclude that the advertisement of cigarette has increases the risks of smoking to young people. The most advertised brands happen to be the popular that has even triumph over the strong parenting practices.
Researches show that teenager who pay much attention to the adverts on cigarette and recall the adverts more easily are likely to become smokers (Mo Bahk, 2001).
Smoking scenes are common in movies and, to a much less extent for instance, on prime-time television. Hollywood movies use smoking as a reflection of troubled characters. However, the status of smoking of the actors becomes influential in whether their characters need to smoke on the screen. For example, prime-time television there is portrayal of a 19 percent of tobacco use; approximately 25 percent depicting negative statements for smoking. In addition, smoking appears in nearly a quarter of all music videos, 25 percent of adverts for R-rated movies, and 7.5 percent of adverts for PG-13 and PG movies (Mo Bahk, 2001).
Box-office movies and pay-per-view distribution have becomes a major way in which use of tobacco is exposed. Although, recent analyses show that there is a decrease in smoking in most movies, but the reflections remains high. A content analysis of the box-office movies between 1996 and 2004 shows that the use of tobacco was depicted in 75 percent of viewer rated movies and in 90 percent of adult rated movies. Part of all group rated films animations between 1937 and 1997 has a reflection of tobacco use. Recent content analysis of top movies between the years 1991 and 2009 indicated the highest tobacco use in 2003 and has since declined by the year 2009. More than half of parental guidance rated movies for viewers under ages of 13 years still contained tobacco use. Overall, the percentage of all top movies, which do not show smoking activities, exceeded 50 percent in 2009.
Alcohol is the number one portrayed drug in the American television, for instance, a drinking scene appear on the television every 22 minutes as compared to a one smoking scene, which may appear after 57 minutes and one illicit drug scene appearing after every 112 minutes. On music television, analysis states that drugs become present in nearly half of about 359 music videos; alcohol taking the lead with about 35 percent, tobacco has 10 percent appearance and finally illicit drugs having an appearance of 13 percent. Popular movies are full of alcohol scenes, with an approximately 2 out of 40 high-rated movies lacking the depictions of alcohol. The PG-rated movies too do contain scenes that referenced use of alcohol. In these movies, alcohol is depicted to the teenagers as a normal behavior.
New technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, and even cellular phones offer new and problematic channels for the exposure of drugs to the adolescent. A number of Web sites advertise and sell tobacco products and majority of them have no effective procedures for age-verification. A national survey conducted on about 1000 young people between ages 14 to 20 years of age showed that a small percentage of about 2 percent reported to have purchased alcohol online, and 12 percent of them reported to have a friend who did so. Prescribed drugs are purchased online without any difficulty. Popular beer brands use advert games online to attract a younger audience. Considerably, alcohol and drug content are widely viewed through online videos and on social networking sites by the teenagers. One study conducted shows that 40 percent of profiles referenced substance abuse.
War on drugs has been intensified for decades, yet teenagers continue to use and abuse these substances, especially tobacco and alcohol. The media contribution to the adolescent substance use has recently become fully recognized. The Settlement Agreement has greatly put restrictions on marketing of tobacco through the open media with the tobacco companies through signing of an agreement. Tobacco however, still have frequent appearance in the movies, contrasting widely with US reality, for instance, approximately half of the total US population lives in communities restricting indoor smoking. Moreover, the strong case in the show of smoking in entertainment media plays an important role in smoking to since pick up. It is time that elimination of all tobacco advertisements and greatly decreases the showing of smoking in media adverts. Alcohol use is still entertained in many venues, its moderation use may show to be healthy for adults, such strict restrictions on advertising and programming of alcohol may not be indicated. More over, use of alcohol by the underage does show a clear or immediate threat to the teenagers who use it. The evidences supports strong actions that need to be aimed at the entertainment industry concerning media depictions of tobacco use and strong actions that aims at motivating and assisting parents and teenagers to avoid access to adult media venues that contain excessive substance use exposure (Kupersmidt, Scull & Austin, 2010).
Parents should be encouraged to intensify the supervision of media use especially that encourages that no television sets are placed in children’s bedrooms. Questions should be in place that questions the much entertainment that a child is recommended to have in a day. Researches have shown that television sets in the children bedroom associate broadly with the abuse of substances and engagement in sexual activities by majority of teenagers.
Parents should be encouraged by the pediatrician to limit the television access by children and young adolescents to the venues that show excessive substance use portrayal, example MTV, HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central. Parents should limit exposure of younger children to peer rated and avoid adult rated movies. Encouragement of parents to view the media together with their children and should engage in discussion of the contents in view is a broader step to take. In addition, turning off the television by the parents should be encouraged by the pediatrician. Pediatricians should also the contents of media documents in their waiting rooms by ensuring that they are free from advertisement that encourage acceptance of cigarette and alcohol (Kupersmidt, Scull & Austin, 2010)..
Community Advocacy by Pediatricians
Pediatricians are supposed to encourage their local school systems to incorporate media education into their curricula. The programs of drug prevention should involve basic principles of media literacy that are designed to discouraging towards the media advertising. Now, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) does not show an accomplishment of this goal, in addition, there is no evidence that DARE is effective. More improved psychological drug-prevention curricula are available and should be encouraged (Kupersmidt, Scull & Austin, 2010).
Legislative Advocacy by Pediatricians
Pediatricians need to encourage Congress to ban tobacco advertisement in all media accessible to children, as done in most European countries. Such bans should be constitutional, since the US Supreme Court ruled on that commercial speech has no way of enjoying the First Amendment on protections as the free speech does. However, the tobacco industries have shown interests in challenging any ban on advertising.
Congress should be encouraged to guide the alcohol industry on the ways and need to report their annual expenditures to the Federal Trade Commission, inclusive the media venue expenditures where children and adolescents represent more than 10 percent of the share market. Voluntary advertisement restrictions do not allow for venues where the targeted group comprises of 30 percent children of the total audience.
Alcohol industry should be encouraged by the pediatrician to restrict advertising and product placement in venues where more than 10 percent of the audiences are children and adolescents.
The National Drug Control Policy offices at the White House should begin conducting antismoking and anti–teenage drinking public service campaigns as supposed to be encouraged by pediatrician. This should include antismoking and anti-drinking advertisement placement on television and movies programs that have peer ratings and show depictions of alcohol and tobacco (Kupersmidt, Scull & Austin, 2010).
Allocation of more money in media research should be encouraged by the pediatrician, since the media is important to the behavioral development of children and adolescents. Tobacco and alcohol and tobacco products should be highly taxed so that the revenue collected could fund such researches. Pediatricians should also encourage the Congress to pass new laws and regulations that restrict digital advertisement targeting children and adolescents (Strasburger, Wilson & Jordan, 2009).
The entertainment industries should be encouraged by the pediatrician to show sensitivity on the effects that television have on the children and the adolescents and accept to have a responsibility to the health of the public. Smoking of cigarettes in the movies should be avoided. Typical example is a promise by Disney Film Company to eliminate smoking in its movies. Free smoking movie sets would end the portrayal of smoking inside the movies and this would protect the actors from the third party smoking. In addition, alcohol use should not be portrayed as to be a normal activity to the teenagers. Since television have a huge adolescent viewers by numbers, it should be encouraged to advertise about the dangers of substances abuse (Mo Bahk,2001).
The federal government agencies, entertainment industries as well as the advertisement industries should develop and maintain campaigns that focus much on the anti-drugs advertisements. These anti-drug campaigns have shown to be successful to the nation as a whole, but it effectiveness to the national youth media campaigns on drug substance abuse has been questions. Pediatricians should put more efforts and show support to the American Academy of Pediatrics Julius Raymond Centre for Excellence, in a mission to help improve health of children through elimination of the exposure of children to the tobacco smoke and exposure to media.
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