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Kids' bad habits blamed on movies
March 26, 2001 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Kids' bad habits blamed on movies I too sneered and thought this was going to be another attack on media as the root cause of all problems. But the stats suggest a correlation that should be given some serious thought. Not talking about guns and school shootings but rather smoking and drinking. But then what of dope?
posted by Postroad (16 comments total)

 
This looks like the type of study done in order to get exactly that article written.
posted by th3ph17 at 8:16 AM on March 26, 2001


It seems unlikely (albeit possible) that movies are directly causing kids to smoke or drink.

I'd guess that parents who have no restrictions on movie watching are less involved with their kids, so their kids are more subject to peer pressure.

I also bet that parents who smoke and drink themselves are less likely to impose viewing restrictions. I wonder what the correlation is between parents who smoke/drink and kids who smoke/drink. It's likely a stronger correlation than movie watching and smoking/drinking.
posted by anapestic at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2001


“Eighth graders with complete restriction were less likely to smoke or drink than fifth graders who were allowed to watch R movies. That’s striking. It suggests maybe they won’t try it if the parents restrict their media.”

Or it could just suggest that those kids with a disciplined upbringing are less likely to try smoking or drinking until a later age because their parents tell them not to.
What an absolute crock.
posted by Markb at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2001


Movies were invented in the late 19th century. What do we blame prior youth crime on?
posted by dithered at 9:27 AM on March 26, 2001


Movies were invented in the late 19th century. What do we blame prior youth crime on?

In the nineteenth century? They blamed it all on novels. And plays. And, on occasion, the newspapers.
posted by thomas j wise at 10:03 AM on March 26, 2001


I'd guess that parents who have no restrictions on movie watching are less involved with their kids, so their kids are more subject to peer pressure.

True. On the other hand it could be argued that movies help set the stage for peer interaction. If they see something cool or trendy, they'll try to emulate it. But with that in mind, movies are definately not the only trend-setter.
posted by samsara at 10:08 AM on March 26, 2001


Strange, this is the second article in the past 4 weeks or so about how stricter parenting makes healthier kids.
posted by daver at 10:08 AM on March 26, 2001


This kind of research is virtually worthless as anything but fodder for the popular press. If you wanted to do this right, you'd have to randomly assign kids to either watch R-rated movies, or not watch them, then follow their smoking/drinking habits for a while. Correlational research like this makes for compelling articles, but there are just too many possible confounds. There's just no way to control all the potential other correlations.
posted by apollo at 10:30 AM on March 26, 2001


Strange, this is the second article in the past 4 weeks or so about how stricter parenting makes healthier kids.

Not strange, to me. Take a look around: many conservative viewpoints that have been hushed, silenced or ignored the last eight years are getting a new airing. Their proponents feel emboldened and empowered by the conservative nature of the country's new leadership. News stories about such ideas will get more mileage as well.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:03 AM on March 26, 2001


At first the article discusses R-rated films. But further down:
[Sargeant] reported in the January issue of the British medical journal The Lancet that among the 250 top-grossing films from 1988 to 1997, 87 percent contained scenes of tobacco use.

While for some reason the Dartmouth researchers chose to focus on R-rated films. Sargeant found a correlation with *most* films likely to be seen. What does the correlation mean? That teens who smoke are more likely to go see movies? That they can't afford other entertainment? That they are part of a subculture under attack by tisk-tisking majoritorians, trying to manipulate their parents?

I don't see anything scientific in the earlier statement:
“The movie industry never had to really confront this because no one had ever scientifically shown there is a link between what movies show and what kids do, and they will have to consider this.”

What kind of *link* has been established? The *suggestion* is that films with smoking *cause* kids to take up smoking. These studies have only anecdotal evidence to support causation. But the suggestion remains.

Does shaky science, and legislation built on it, solve problems?

One more: the article starts with this not-so-subtle admonition:
Kids whose parents don’t let them watch R-rated movies are five times less likely to try cigarettes or alcohol... a new study found.

It did?
For someone only cruising by the article for a moment, we have a strong *suggestion* that isn't supported by the research *or* the article. Do kids who see movies "try" cigarettes? Or are kids who already smoke cigarettes more likely to go see movies?

This is "Reefer Madness"-grade, tabloid science: mixing science-illiterate journalists with institutional scientists with an agenda. Recall that in the 50s, it was *comic books* that caused juvenile deliquency... Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Batman, all that awful stuff.

"There are no problems, only solutions."
posted by Twang at 11:16 AM on March 26, 2001


if anyone really believes that stricter parenting makes healthier kids, they ought to give Todd 'Marijuanvich' Marinovich's father a call. good old Marv never even let poor Todd eat at that scottish restaurant while shaping him into a RoboQB.
posted by donkeysuck at 12:44 PM on March 26, 2001


Why is "Blame Canada" suddenly running through my head? And how much do I love that in order to ram their point home, they use a photo of Neve Campbell in "54," a movie whose title coincides with exactly the number of people who saw it?

America eats its young. They might as well have titled the article: "KIDS: Why Won't The Exasperating Little Bastards Knock All That Crap Off?"
posted by Skot at 12:52 PM on March 26, 2001


Maybe movies affect kids' behavior, maybe not. I'm inclined to give a little credit to the idea. I'm sure kids act out what they think is cool in movies and on TV. Sometimes, anyway. I imagine I did.

And? Maybe that sucks (or maybe not), but now what do we do about it? Pass legislation? To what effect?
posted by daveadams at 2:12 PM on March 26, 2001


Basic fallacy of confusing correlation with causation.

Correlative value (good work spotting it, anapestic): Parents who supervise have kids that don't drink as much, smoke as much, probably aren't as antisocial.

Causative connection of movies creating monsters: zero.

It's the same fallacy that people make when they claim cannabis is a gateway drug. Because heroin users almost always report that they have used pot before they started shooting up, anti-marijuana researchers make the (fallacious) leap of logic that marijuana leads to heroin use. In reality, it's a correlation only; those likely to try heroin are almost assuredly going to try other drugs first.

Morons! Morons all!
posted by norm at 2:21 PM on March 26, 2001


I'm sure kids act out what they think is cool in movies and on TV.

The relevant question seems to be whether they are just acting this stuff out in play situations where they know it's not real, or whether they are behaving in this manner in real situations. I think that's a very important distinction.
posted by harmful at 2:24 PM on March 26, 2001


But doesn't that question answer itself? I'm not asking you specifically holgate, I just don't see how people forget what it was like to, you know, pretend, and make-believe when they were kids.

When I was 6 and having light saber battles with my friends, I didn't think that my flashlight was an energy beam, and I didn't think that my hand was actually cut off (when I got to play Luke), and I didn't think my best friend was my father and my love interest was my sister.

I really feel sorry for people who forget what it's like to have an imagination.
posted by cCranium at 5:30 AM on March 27, 2001


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