(HealthNewsDigest.com) - A University at Albany professor, along with lead author Marie Louise Radanielina Hita (HEC Montreal) and collaborator Bruce Pinkleton (Dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication)
have issued new research to support the premise that parents have a critical role in diminishing their children's chances of developing unhealthy attitudes toward alcohol as a result of youth's interactions with alcohol brands on social media, particularly in the digital age when they are exposed to more alcohol marketin
g than the generations immediately before them.
"Media literacy skills developed through parental mediation can help reduce the influence of
alcohol-related online-marketing tactics by increasing adolescents' ability to detect and use more realistic information in their decision-making, potentially resulting in healthier decisions and actions," said Dr. Pinkleton.
Citing research by the Pew Research Center showing that 94% of American teens are online "very often" or daily using their mobile devices, the authors explain how these contact points represent opportunities for advertisers to increase their brands' visibility. Alcohol advertisers are some of the key content creators in social media with tie-ins, interactive games, online events and various invitations to drink. Some incredibly successful tactics offer young consumers the opportunity to participate in marketing campaigns by posting photos of themselves drinking.
"This shocking, yet effective, exploitation of a vulnerable population is something parents, educators and health professionals must work against," said the authors. "To accomplish this goal, they must guide teens to develop critical thinking skills that will lead to better decision-making and healthy outcomes."
The researchers offer the following:
- Negative parental mediation can decrease unhealthy behaviors, as a result of youth's online interaction by increasing their critical thinking.
- On the other hand, positive parental mediation directly increases youth's likelihood to interact with alcohol brands online and to fall for marketers' tricks.
- Importantly, positive parental mediation increases realism, similarity and positive expectations about alcohol through its effect on youth's interactions with alcohol online. Hence, according to Marie Louise Radanielina Hita, "It is not enough to just talk with the child, the parent has to adopt a behavior that is conducive to discussion."
The paper recommends that parents engage in critical discussions with their children regarding their exposure to alcohol advertising on social media, because
what is transmitted through early socialization practices is a general pattern toward critical thinking that lasts into adulthood and extends across different risky behaviors.
"Increasing young people's critical thinking about messages on social networking sites is an effective approach to helping them make healthier decisions. Consequently, it appears that educational efforts concerning alcohol would benefit by including a media literacy component, because critical consumers who are skeptical of media messages appear to benefit from stronger decision-making when interacting with alcohol brands online," said Dr. Kareklas.
About Ioannis Kareklas, Ph.D.
is Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University at Albany, School of Business. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Connecticut in 2010. His research focuses on advertising effectiveness, public policy issues related to pro-social behaviors, and sensory perception. Dr. Kareklas often employs implicit measures and meta-analytic techniques in his research. His work appears in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Journal of Marketing Communications, Journal of Business Research, and the Journal of Health Communication.
About Marie Louise Radanielina Hita, Ph.D.
Marie Louise Radanielina Hita is a researcher & lecturer at HEC-Montreal - Quebec. She completed her doctoral studies at Washington State University in 2012. Her research focuses on understanding the socio-psychological determinants of health, media literacy and the beneficial effects of parental communication on youth's decision making. Her work appears in
Health Communication, the Journal of Intercultural Communication Research and the Journal of Health Communication.
About Bruce Pinkleton, Ph.D.
Bruce Pinkleton is the Interim Dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. His research interests focus on health promotion and abuse prevention, media literacy and decision making in the digital era. His work has been published in many journals, including the Journal of American College Health, Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, the Journal of Children and Media, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly and Mass Communication and Society.