Many YouTube videos glorify alcohol

September 21, 2017, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

YouTube videos featuring alcohol are heavily viewed and nearly always promote the "fun" side of drinking.

That's the finding of a study in September issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Researchers looked at 137 YouTube videos that featured alcohol brands popular with underage drinkers—from beer to vodka to cognac. Together, the videos had been viewed nearly 97 million times.

Most often—40 percent of the time—the videos were traditional advertisements. Others were "guides," in which a host showcased a particular alcohol, discussing its merits and offering serving suggestions. Some (10 percent) featured men showing off their "chugging" prowess.

There is no way of knowing how many of those millions of viewers were underage kids, according to lead researcher Brian Primack, M.D., Ph.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health.

"Our aim is not to say we should be censoring this," said Primack, who is also dean of the Honors College and a professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh. "However, knowing about this content should help us develop appropriate educational programs."

The were usually uploaded by "ordinary" YouTube users, rather than manufacturers, according to Primack.

"It didn't seem to be that Bud Light was posting most of these," he said. "It was usually someone who just liked this ad enough to post it."

But the industry is never completely out of the picture, Primack pointed out: Companies create their ads to be funny or otherwise engaging—and that may be partly with the hope that people will share them on social media.

What should do?

"We're not suggesting that young people should never see these videos or that parents say, 'You're never using the Internet again,'" Primack said.

Instead, he suggested that parents help their kids be more savvy about . They could point out how companies can try to manipulate people—by, for instance, portraying as a key ingredient to socializing and having fun.

"Parents can be important purveyors of media literacy," Primack said. "They can help their kids become more critical thinkers about what they see in ads."

Explore further: In the YouTube universe, alcohol is funny, drinkers are attractive, consequences minimal

More information: Primack, B. A., Colditz, J. B., Rosen, E. B., Giles, L. M., Jackson, K. M., & Kraemer, K. L. (September 2017). Portrayal of alcohol brands popular among underage youth on YouTube: A content analysis. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 78, 654-664. DOI: 10.15288/jsad.2017.78.654

Related Stories

In the YouTube universe, alcohol is funny, drinkers are attractive, consequences minimal

February 20, 2015
A variety of socio-demographic, personal, and environmental factors have been linked to negative alcohol-use consequences during adolescence and young adulthood. Media exposure to alcohol is one of these factors. A recent ...

Underage drinkers overexposed to magazine advertising for the brands they consume

July 8, 2014
The brands of alcohol popular with underage drinkers also happen to be the ones heavily advertised in magazines that young people read, a new study finds.

More evidence that TV ads may influence kids' drinking

September 7, 2016
The more advertising kids see for particular brands of alcohol, the more they consume of those brands, according to a new study.

National survey links teen binge drinking and alcohol-brand references in pop music

April 8, 2014
Binge drinking by teenagers and young adults is strongly associated with liking, owning and correctly identifying music that references alcohol by brand name, according to a study by the University of Pittsburgh and Norris ...

Crafty alcohol advertising directed at US adolescents through music and branding

April 8, 2014
Alcohol consumption among adolescents is high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of U.S. adolescents are current drinkers, and roughly 22 percent are current binge drinkers. The average ...

YouTube videos promote positive associations with alcohol use

September 6, 2016
"F**k it! Let's get to drinking - poison our livers!" According to researchers at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, lyrics such as these in YouTube music videos may harmfully influence adolescents in Britain. ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.