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Using Television to Reduce Alcohol Consumption among Teenagers

UsingTelevision to Reduce Alcohol Consumption among Teenagers

UsingTelevision to Reduce Alcohol Consumption among Teenagers

Overthe past thirty years, Americans have been heavily reliant on themedia, particularly the television. Most young people are addicted toTV thus, it is bound to influence some of their choices(Moreno,Furtner &amp Rivara 2011). On the other hand, drug and alcohol useamong youths have become a social problem as an alarming number ofteens are becoming addicted to both legal and illegal substances.Adolescence is a time where people start to be self-dependent inmaking some crucial decisions in their life (Jernigan, 2011).Therefore, the public health officials have tried to integrate drugand alcohol prevention strategies into the television adverts toreach as many young adults as possible. The campaigns aim at reachingthe teens before they start experimenting with alcohol or otherillegal substances. Consequently, television can be used to reducealcohol consumption among teenagers, but there are limitations due tothe lack of finances, competition from the fascinating alcoholadverts thus, it is crucial to widen the scope of the campaigns toinclude parents, teachers, and community members to increase thesuccess rates.

Howthe media has been used

Televisionplays an increasingly significant role in public health campaigns dueto their broad reach and power to influence. Adolescentwatching TV for an average of 20 hours per week view an alcoholadvert every 14 minutes(Ross, Ostroff &amp Jernigan, 2014).TheTV campaigns have been used reduce the impact of such commercials byshowing the young people that alcohol use results in addiction andother health problems. Therefore,the campaigns have used the full power of the television to educateand enable the young adults to reject alcohol(Jernigan, 2011).Thehealth department in partnership with the society and the media alsouses the TV campaigns to convince the currentusers tochange their behavior. The TV adverts also provide credibleinformation to ensure that the teens do not dismiss it by questioningit applicability(Moreno, Furtner &amp Rivara 2011). Consequently,television will continue to have a critical role in the country’slong-term efforts to reduce alcohol use among adolescents.


However,reducing or eliminating drug and alcohol using television can bechallenging because the message has to contradict popularadvertisements that attract a large number of viewers. Today,televisions are full of ads on legal substances such as alcohol andcigarettes. The messages show that these substances offer somebenefits to the user(Moreno, Furtner &amp Rivara 2011). Forexample, AbsolutVodkaadvert indicates that viewers can attain their fantasies by takingone glass of the drink. Therefore, it shows the teens that if theyconsume this alcoholic beverage, they can experience all theirdesires. Hence, contradicting such a message may be difficult(Ross, Ostroff &amp Jernigan, 2014).Additionally,the progress may be slow and intangible. The public health advocatesmainly rely on the short-term impact of the television campaignsthus, they overlook the behavior change and attitude that arecharacterized by a slow process of change rather than suddenalteration. Hence, they end up abandoning the campaign on theassumption that they have passed along the desired message, yet thecommercial promoting alcoholic drinks are continuous.

Thenagain, it is hard to get the teenagers to believe that alcoholconsumption can have adverse effects on their health since mostadvertisements involve appealing images that play into their desires.Most teens use substances such as alcohol during social occasions.The primary focus for most young people is the immediate effects.Hence, they might overestimate their long-term capability to controlthe level of consumption. Some teenagers might conclude that regulardrinking does not necessarily result in severe health consequencesbased on their personal observations. Thus, the campaigns will beineffective in dissuading them from taking alcohol or using any othersubstances. On the other hand, anti-drug campaigns place theresponsibility of drug prevention on the target audience in a waythat does not sufficiently address issues. Therefore, they rarelyintegrate the visual communication techniques, language, and symbolsto help the young people fully understand alcohol use and alternativesolutions. For example, the MontanaMeth Projectcampaign gained national attention due to its unique messages totheir target audiences. However, it does not give teenagers anexplanation that helps them understand the health consequences ofcrystalmethamphetamine and alternative solutions to deal with the socialpressure that may influence them to try out the drug(Ross, Ostroff &amp Jernigan, 2014).

Thefinancial resources can also be significant obstacles to promotingbehavior change using television. The TV networks are profitableorganizations thus, they sell the best time slots to most lucrativeadvertisements. In most cases, the alcohol industry spendsapproximately 2 billion per year in TV ads to increase popularity oftheir brands. On the contrary, the Public Health Departments may lackthe resources required to secure equal amount of time to air theircampaigns (Ross, Ostroff &amp Jernigan, 2014). Besides, productplacement is done according to the money the advertising company ispaying to generate high-visibility among their target audience. Forexample, alcohol is mainly featured sponsoring cultural and sportsevents that have a high number of viewers hence, their impact isbroad, unlike the public health campaigns.

Possibilitiesand recommendations

Instead,the campaigns should also target the parents and communities. Theseindividuals are vital in guiding the young people into the rightdirection by discouraging them from using alcohol. For example, theanti-drug programs in the television can guide the parents to detectand prevent drinking before the teens become addicted. They shouldalso be given directions on helping their children who are alreadyusing alcohol. The campaigns must encourage parents to talk to theirchildren about drugs and alcohol abuse to reduce the impact ofnegative peer pressure. Including all the community members will alsopersuade all people in the society to participate in the initiativeto limit the access alcohol for young adults. The televisioncampaigns can also improve success rates by enhancing the formationand effective implementation of community or school-based programs.For example, the campaigns can persuade the teachers and communityleaders to form activities that will engage the youths in helpfulactivities and deter them from drinking (Moreno, Furtner &amp Rivara2011). The campaign organizers should collaborate with local advocacygroups, society members, and school-based programs to increase thepossibility of success. Most communities have implemented initiativesto reduce and possibly eliminate drug and alcohol use among youthsthrough various strategies such as limiting their access to thesesubstances. Therefore, the comprehensive prevention strategies usedin the schools should be reinforced by the televisioncampaigns(Moreno, Furtner &amp Rivara 2011).

Thecampaigns can also use current real life situations to show thenegative impact of using both legal and illegal substances (Ross,Ostroff &amp Jernigan, 2014). Many celebrities have had problemswith drug addictions, and some of them have taken the necessary stepstowards recovery. The campaign organizers can collaborate with theseindividuals to use their experiences as examples to deter youths fromusing drugs. Besides, these celebrities are more likely to influencethe young adults because their problems may seem relatable to theviewers unlike using a fictional scenario, which the teens mightdismiss as though it will never occur. The television campaignsshould target the existing beliefs and knowledge of the young peoplethat hinder them from adopting the desired habits (Rhoades &ampJernigan, 2013). Teenagers have formed misconceptions that allow themto ignore the consequences of drinking. The campaign shouldcommunicate the incentive and health benefits of choosing drugs freehabits. The youths are more likely to support the ideas and valuesthey believe will benefit them the most. Accordingly, the campaignshould play into the teens’ desires and aspirations and show themhow they can achieve their needs if they do not use alcohol or drugs.

Theanti-drug messages should emphasize on the important themes in teendevelopment such as identity, freedom, and peer groupacceptance(Moreno, Furtner &amp Rivara 2011). The transition intomaturity is characterized by the desire to have a distinct identityfrom their parents. Therefore, they seek autonomy that oftenmanifests as a rejection of parental values, conventional society,and rebellion towards authority. Then again, group acceptance ishighly valued by teens, and it can be an extremely influential on theself-identity of the members (Ross, Ostroff &amp Jernigan, 2014).Today, many young adults engage in social activities that includesubstance use that contributes to the teens’ definition of selfhence, they overlook the concerns about the health risks. Thecampaigns can also integrate peer resistance factors to increase thesuccess rates to deter the role of social influences.

Inconclusion, television influences the decision of many young adultsthus, the Public Health Departments can harness its power toeliminate the issue of alcohol and drug use. However, the campaignsshould integrate various techniques to be more effective. Manyalcohol advertisements associate drinking with valued characteristicssuch as elegance, sociability, and physical attractiveness.Subsequently, it results in desired outcomes such as romance,success, adventure, and relaxation. Thus, the campaign shouldemphasize on the negative health-related consequences to dissuadeteens from using alcohol. The parents will play a vital role inensuring that their children do not use alcohol or drugs thus, itwill make the television campaign even more successful. Therefore,television should be used a tool to enact desired social change inthe society rather than been viewed only as a form of entertainment.


Jernigan,D. H. (2011). Framing a public health debate over alcoholadvertising: The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth 2002–2008.Journal of Public Health Policy, 32(2),165–179.

Moreno, M. A. , Furtner. F., &amp Rivara F. P. (2011). Media Influence onAdolescent Alcohol Use. Archivesof Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 165(7),680.

Rhoades,E., &amp Jernigan, D. H. (2013 ). Risky messages in alcoholadvertising, 2003–2007: Results from content analysis. Journalof Adolescent Health, 52(1), 116–121.

Ross,C.S., Ostroff, J., &amp Jernigan, D. H. (2014). Evidence of underagetargeting of alcohol advertising on television in the United States:Lessons from the Lockyer v. Reynolds decisions. Journal of PublicHealth Policy, 35(1), 105–118.