How R-rated movies can lead to drug use in teens

Psychologist Michael Dennis, PhD, explains how R-rated movies, if seen by children before the age of 17, can increase children's likelihood of using drugs
How R-rated Movies Can Lead To Teen Drug Use - Kids In The House
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How R-rated movies can lead to drug use in teens

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One of the questions parents often wonder about is that usually during junior high school and the early years of high school is how much are their teens likely to be put at risk because their watching R-rated movies or they’re listening to music that’s very vivid in its descriptions of drugs, alcohol and sex. Well, the first thing you have to realize is that product placement works. People pay millions of dollars to have their product mentioned in a movie or a TV show, they pay for ads showing someone holding the can or doing someone driving in a particular car. Selling drugs works, that’s why the pharmaceutical industry buys a lot of commercials, because it does work. Now, how is that related to music and to movies? Well, the extant to which a movie has a lot of drug use in it and that they’re glamorizing or glorifying it, that movie is going to be more likely to lead to substance use. For that very reason, the motion picture industry will take a movie that they recognize as involving alcohol or drugs heavilly, and give it an R-rating. So an R-rating is one of the ways that they try to communicate to the parents, this movie has a lot of adult content, including alcohol and drug use, and it’s not as safe to be seen by people under the age of 17. And in that sense, they’re tagging for you those movies that are more likely to put the child at risk.

Psychologist Michael Dennis, PhD, explains how R-rated movies, if seen by children before the age of 17, can increase children's likelihood of using drugs

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Michael Dennis, PhD

Psychologist

Michael Dennis, PhD, is a senior research psychologist and Director of the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center at Chestnut Health Systems in Normal, Illinois. Over the past 25 years his primary area of research has been to better understand and manage addiction and recovery over the life course. This includes multiple clinical trials to compare the effectiveness of adolescent treatment approaches and recovery support services, longitudinal studies with adolescents, adults and older adults to understand the predictors of entering and sustaining recovery, and creating the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) coordinating center for teaching evidenced based assessment to support clinical decision making at the individual level and program evaluation. He has multiple awards for moving the field from science to practice, promoting diversity through practice based evidence and bringing more people into the field.

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