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Parental R-Rated Movie Restriction and Early-Onset Alcohol Use

Susanne E. Tanski, Sonya Dal Cin, Mike Stoolmiller, James D. Sargent

ABSTRACT.Objective: 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. Method: 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?" Results: 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. Conclusions: 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. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 71, 452-459,2010)