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IAS Report: Internet influences on adolescent attitudes to alcohol

With generous funding from Alcohol Research UK, IAS has recently completed research on the influence of the Internet on young peoples’ drinking and is today publishing the findings in a report.

The Internet and New Media are ubiquitous in young people’s lives today and there is evidence of a relationship between adolescent exposure to alcohol media content and alcohol consumption.  This important study examines the prevalence and nature of actual Internet content experienced by young people, rather than a general count of alcohol instances as has been used in previous research.

The research also explored how young people responded to those alcohol references, took measures of alcohol consumption and examined implicit attitudes through an Implicit Attitude Test to provide an insight into the relationship between these factors.

Main findings

  • The young people encountered significantly more online alcohol content than non-alcoholic content and were more likely to engage with the alcohol content. 
  • This content tended to be passive background references that were received positively and participants mainly focused on the aesthetics of the setting rather than contextual information.  These findings would suggest that cognitive uptake of online alcohol content could occur very easily and possibly outside participants’ awareness. 
  • Those with more positive implicit attitudes were more likely to consume more alcohol and there was an association between the proportion of alcohol references and heavy episodic consumption.  While the analysis did not provide evidence of causality, results highlighted how intertwined uptake of alcohol media content and implicit attitudes to alcohol consumption are.

For a summary of the report, please click here  (pdf 97kb)

For the full report, please click here. (pdf 1.2mb)

Please note, this report is the pre-publication full report, and may be abridged for peer review