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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2010 May;71(3):452-9.

Parental R-rated movie restriction and early-onset alcohol use.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics and Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Dartmouth Medical School, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755-1404, USA.



The aim of this study was to determine if parental restriction regarding Restricted-rated movies (R movies) predicts lower rates of early-onset alcohol use.


Students from 15 northern New England middle schools were surveyed in 1999, and never-drinkers were resurveyed 13-26 months later to determine alcohol use. Drinking was determined by the question, "Have you ever had beer, wine, or other drink with alcohol that your parents didn't know about?" R-movie restriction was assessed by the question, "How often do your parents allow you to watch movies that are rated R?"


The sample included 2,406 baseline never-drinkers who were surveyed at follow-up, of whom 14.8% had initiated alcohol use. At baseline, 20% reported never being allowed to watch R movies, and 21% reported being allowed all the time. Adolescents allowed to watch R-rated movies had higher rates of alcohol initiation (2.9% initiation among never allowed, 12.5% once in a while, 18.8% sometimes, and 24.4% all the time). Controlling for sociodemographics, personality characteristics, and authoritative parenting style, the adjusted odds ratios for initiating alcohol use were 3.0 (95% CI [1.7, 5.1]) for those once in a while allowed, 3.3 [1.9, 5.6] for those sometimes allowed, and 3.5 [2.0, 6.0] for those always allowed to watch R-rated movies. Alcohol initiation was more likely if R-rated movie restriction relaxed over time; tightening of restriction had a protective effect (p < .001). A structural model was developed that modeled two latent parenting constructs: (a) authoritative parenting and (b) media parenting. Both constructs had direct inverse paths to trying alcohol and indirect paths through lower exposure to R-rated movies.


After accounting for differences in authoritative parenting style, adolescents reporting lesser restrictions for R movies have higher odds of future alcohol use. The structural model suggests that media parenting operates independently from authoritative parenting and should be incorporated explicitly into parenting prevention programs.

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