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Recent Dev Alcohol. 1993;11:73-85.

Children and alcohol.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee 32306.


The literature on what, when, and how young children learn about alcohol and drinking is critically reviewed and key issues are highlighted. Available evidence points to recognition of alcohol, identification of drinking norms and rules, formation of attitudes toward drinking and drinkers, and appreciation of some of the consequences of alcohol consumption as early as the preschool years. Understanding of drinking motives appears to require a level of cognitive development that is not present until about 10 to 12 years of age, although there is a dearth of research on this probably crucial determinant of later decisions to drink. Among the factors involved in the acquisition of alcohol cognitions and dispositions are observational learning via families, media, and peers as well as personal drinking experience. Salience of alcohol and its management in the child's immediate environment appears to be an important moderator/mediator of learning. Application of relevant theory to understanding the development of the meaning of alcohol and drinking in preadolescent children is seen as underdeveloped at this time. However, there are a number of potentially fruitful avenues to pursue which could have important implications for future education and prevention efforts.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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