An average broadcast of an NFL football game contains 11 minutes of players-in-motion and 60 minutes of advertising. So, what do your kids really see when they watch those games? Lots of ads that depict drinking alcohol as cool and link that alcohol directly to success and happiness.
More than a billion dollars is spent each year on beer ads during broadcast sporting events (and other programs) that children, teens and young adults watch. So it's little wonder that the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that around 24 percent of kids ages 12 to 20 years old say they drank alcohol in the last month and around 15 percent admit to binge drinking. Meanwhile, 190,000 kids younger than age 21 land in the ER every year from alcohol-related accidents.
What can you do to help your kids understand how risky it is to drink when your brain is still developing and your future can be permanently altered? Plenty. Studies show setting a good example, establishing rules and welcoming open conversations about drinking can dramatically improve your child's odds of saying no to alcohol until they turn 21 - and that makes them six times less likely to be substance abusers in their adulthood.
Here's how to share the tough facts on the risks so that it makes a difference:
- Explain that when teens drink it changes parts of the brain that control memory, learning and decision-making. And the damage from teenage drinking isn't temporary, it persists into adulthood. If you are a "stupid drunk" tonight, you'll be more likely to have poor cognitive function 15 years from now.
- Point out that if teens hold off now, when they turn 21, they'll have the good judgment they need to drink responsibly, which means no more than one glass of wine a day for women and two for men.