Every day, through various ways and with the use of media, young adults and children are endlessly induced to healthy, harmless and positive images of alcohol and its benefits. They are lured with the demonstrations through marketing of brands and products which are effectively injurious and predominantly causing harm to young adults. Absence of strict rules and regulations protects young adults from such mind controlling and brainwashing temptations of their drinking habits. Although, marketing can definitely groom our young adults by endorsing principles or methods and guidelines with which they can go on and achieve success in their lives.
Undoubtedly, the youth and children are far more susceptible and prone to suffer in comparison to the alcohol drinking by adults. There are numerous ways by which young people suffer more such as sudden mood changes which could be behavioral and psychological like feeling happiness or pleasure, stress or tension, being anxious or perturbed and even depression at times which may possibly lean into sudden accidents or act of violence and offences in person and to public in some cases.
Alcohol marketing including advertising, sponsorship and other forms of promotion, increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol (Scientific Opinion of the Science Group of the European Alcohol and Health Forum, 2009).
Alcohol marketing exposes young adults through newspapers, television, radio, magazines and through the internet including social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc. It also takes place in the form of sponsorships wherein not only the drinking which is associated with the sporting personalities but also those ill intended messages it shares with the brands which bewitch or captivates young minds. They use celebrities, they use innovation, they use sports, and they also use all kinds of things that appeal children.
Innovations in digital media are way ahead of where public health is able to measure and assess its impact, and they are way ahead of where government can take steps to protect kids. Changes are happening so quickly that resources don’t exist to monitor this from a public health perspective. Self-regulatory codes in the alcohol industry in this country aren’t working, and the government regulators aren’t doing much about it (Dr. Jernigan, 2017).
A survey of 155 young children aged 9 to 15 years in Western Australia resulted in 75% identifying Bundy Bear and correctly relating him with an alcoholic product. Whereas 76% of 164 children in entire Australia aged between 5-12 years were able to precisely match minimum one sport with its apt sponsor. Alcohol advertisements made 22% of the entire outdoor advertising surrounding schools wherein for every square kilometer there were 25 school advertisements as per a study in Sydney and Wollongong. Also, during the entire race at Bathurst 1000 in 2008 about 117,000 children and teenagers aged between 5-17 years were displayed with and exposed to 35 minutes of alcohol advertisements which included between breaks advertisements and sponsorships.
It was likely that in human teenagers, analogous neural mechanisms might explain alcohol ‘blackouts’ — a lack of memory for events that occur during a night of heavy drinking without a loss of consciousness. Blackouts were once thought to be a symptom of advanced adult alcoholism, but researchers have recently discovered just how frequent they are among teenagers as well (Dr. Scott Swartzwelder, 2006). Neuro-scientific study has found that continuous use of alcohol from early stage of life can affect brain chemistry drastically. It can manifest compulsive patterns and have severe impact on memory and control on your actions consequently effecting development, health and well-being.
Alcohol nowadays has become the regular use for every function, events, celebrations like family get together, clubbing and parties. Since alcohol comes in various nature and forms, people generally drink it to enjoy and have fun. But young adults start drinking alcohol, being totally unaware of the fact how it can harm their body and mind. Certainly, alcohol is the most widely misused drink among young children and their alcoholism grows unrestrained while growing up. The majority of teenagers have had at least one drink, but for some it doesn’t stop at just one. Alcohol takes their lives more than any other drug, kills them literally. Their drinking habits generally start at the age around 13 and millions of them below 18 live in alcoholic homes. It’s a fact that so many of them eventually become alcoholic and unfortunately for some of them it starts at much younger age. In one of the surveys where one-third of grade 4th and half of the grade 6th questioned replied that they were peer pressured to drink at least one time and almost all of them drank to please or impress their friends.
Alcohol advertisers spent $2 billion on alcohol advertisements in measured media (television, radio, print, outdoor, major newspapers and Sunday supplements) in 2005. USA Today survey found out that teens say ads have a greater influence on their desire to drink in general than on their desire to buy a particular brand of alcohol. Between 2001 and 2004, youth exposure to alcohol advertising on television in the US increased by 41%. Much of this increase resulted from the rise in distilled spirits advertisements on television from 1973 ads in 2001 to 46854 ads in 2005. From an alcohol marketing perspective, Irish 16 and 17-year-olds are significant contributors to alcohol profits in Ireland spending an estimated €145m on alcohol each year.
Health industries in Australia were unconvinced and doubtful about the efficacy of the Placement Rules introduced as Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) Scheme. It was proposed and initiated to provide additional safeguards for minors, but unfortunately it restrained young children keeping them away from alcohol marketing. These rules were no different and so should be implemented to:
- Make sure that advertisements are not displayed within the events intended for children.
- Implement age restrictions wherever possible.
- Market their brand of products wisely where the gathering is minimum 75% adults.
- The placement of alcohol advertisements must fulfill the standards set by the other industries which include the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice.
The number of advertisements and commercials reach to youth is increasing and growing aggressively as they do have the access to easy use of technology. With billions of dollars being invested each year on alcohol advertisements, it is quite commonly believed that alcohol advertisements will be seen irrespective of the consumer’s personal choice of publication. Mobile phones are the primary weapons for alcohol advertisements. Over 1.3 billion dollars was spent in 2010 alone and with the huge percentage of young children under the age of 21 keeping mobile phones to go online or playing games, such advertisements will be displayed and be watched creating an influence over them. 1 in every 5 young children aged between 16-24 stated to have visited an alcohol brand page over Facebook which includes 10 percentages of those falling under the age of 18. Millions of people have been recruited by alcohol brands on their Facebook pages. Brands like Budweiser Australia and Smirnoff Australia are having millions and millions of likes on their official pages on the same platform.
Alcohol brands and clubs engage with young adults through sales promotions activities, and content co-creation between young adults, brands and clubs takes place through Facebook walls as well as via information sections, events sections, and discussion sections on Facebook (Jenkins, 2006). Not just Facebook, other social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter are equally misused by young generation, as young as 13 years are able to access and interact with the content posted by the alcohol brands on it. Even fake accounts were created just for the purpose of exploring if young ones could interact with the content posted by these brands. Music videos on YouTube convey worst of impressions on young minds with young girls aged within 13-15 ruining the most considering to all age groups. It clearly indicates that alcohol advertising and marketing also have a significant effect by influencing youth and adult expectations and attitudes, and helping to create an environment that promotes underage drinking.
However, more recent studies have pointed to the importance of alcohol advertising in shaping youth attitudes, perceptions and, particularly, expectancies about alcohol use, which then influence youth decisions to drink. Thus, in addition to measuring exposure and drinking behavior, researchers have increasingly included measures of attitudes and expectancies about alcohol use, integrating these variables into media effects models (Jernigan, 2010). Advertisements are under fire for their sexuality and power to sell alcohol to underage kids, but at the same time, kids’ choices to drink alcohol are not entirely based on what they see in magazines and on television, it is simply an aspect that contributes to the larger picture of their home life and other outside influences.
What our data is suggesting is that you can’t control all of your kids’ decisions, but you can help them to make good choices in situations where alcohol is available. You want kids to think about and reflect upon the pros and cons of drinking based on your previous discussions (Craig Colder, 2015). Considering this, clearly it requires its review to be more transparent more detailed and more independent about how the alcohol advertisements must be controlled. I personally think and statistics have shown and proved my concerns that alcohol has certainly taken out the young and unsuspecting or naive of our community namely our youth just out having a ‘good time’ and most of the time we read about another broken-hearted family trying to answer the 50-million-dollar question that how are we going to find someone to stand up and make a difference. It is very apparent and has become quite prevailing that alcohol advertisements influence on younger generation is much stronger and deeper. It goes without saying that children get affected by their surroundings or environment they grow in and what they are exposed to makes a huge difference in building their overall personalities. This primarily starts at their own homes with parents being around them, developing similar attitudes or the nature. To mitigate the inappropriate advertisements and media from the ever-expanding underage population we can hopefully conceive for a mutual agreement between parents and certain publications limiting the damage it habitually induces.