BACKGROUND. Entertainment media exposure may predict teenager alcohol use, but few longitudinal studies have been reported.
METHODS. A longitudinal study was conducted of 2708 German adolescents aged 10 to 16 years who had never drunk alcohol. Each adolescent was surveyed at school about daily television use, whether they had a television in their bedroom, and their exposure to movie alcohol depictions. Adolescents were resurveyed 12 to 13 months later (retention rate: 85%) to determine onset of drinking alcohol without parental knowledge and binge drinking (≥5 consecutive drinks).
RESULTS. Overall, 885 (33%) students initiated alcohol use without parental knowledge (17% in quartile 1 movie alcohol exposure), and 387 (14%) initiated binge drinking during follow-up. After controlling for baseline covariates, exposure to movie alcohol use significantly increased percent initiating alcohol use (to 24% in exposure quartile 2, 33% in quartile 3 and 34% in quartile 4) and percent initiating binge drinking (to 8.6% in exposure quartile 2, 12% in quartile 3 and 13% in quartile 4). Having a television in the bedroom also predicted both outcomes, but daily television use did not.
CONCLUSIONS. Movie exposure and having a television in the bedroom are both independent predictors of onset of problematic alcohol use among German teenagers. Media restrictions could play a role in prevention.