Youth Perceptions of Alcohol and Drug Use in Television Ads and Programs

By Scott D. Scheer, Joseph F. Donnermeyer and Sherrie R. Whaley.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

An analysis of perceptions of television depictions of alcohol and drug use was conducted based on a survey of 4,396 7th grade students from a U.S. southwestern state. Theories of socialization generally state that both conforming and deviant behaviors are directly modeled from close friends, family, and schools. As well, secondary sources, including the media, play an important role. The information for this study comes from the American Drug and Alcohol Survey, which has been specially designed for school-aged youth. The purpose of this study was to examine how students perceive television portrayals of alcohol and drug use and to test for possible differences in perceptions by location, three ethnic/race groups (African-American, Mexican-American, and European-American), and sex. For alcohol, students were widely divergent in their perceptions of alcohol use depictions in television ads and programs. For drug use, they mostly believed that television programs depicted usage negatively. In general, youth perceptions of television portrayals of alcohol and drug use were the same regardless of location, ethnicity/race, and sex. Although the findings indicated that youth have varied perceptions of how alcohol and drug use was presented on television, their perceptions were similar, regardless of students’ demographic background.

Keywords: Alcohol and Drug Use, Television, Youth Perceptions, Location, Ethnicity, Sex

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.287-296. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 543.567KB).

Scott D. Scheer

Associate Professor and State Extension Specialist, Human and Community Resource Development, OSU Extension, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Dr. Scott D. Scheer is an associate professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Human and Community Resource Development and OSU Extension at The Ohio State University. His primary research focus pertains to youth development in an ecological perspective. Specific areas include: emotional intelligence, social and psychological factors contributing to life-span transitions; and problem behaviors. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals including Family Relations, Adolescent and Family Health, and Journal of Child and Family Studies. Dr. Scheer received his Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in Family Studies and his Masters degree in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University, Teachers College.

Joseph F. Donnermeyer

Professor, Rural Sociology Program , Department of Human and Community Resource Development, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Dr. Joseph F. Donnermeyer is a professor in the Rural Sociology program at The Ohio State University. Dr. Donnermeyer's major field of study is criminology, with a special focus on rural crime. He has conducted research on levels of victimization and attitudes toward crime among rural people, and the extent and pattern of offending by rural populations, especially youth. He is the author (co-author) of over 70 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books on issues related to rural crime and rural societies. He has been a visiting professor with the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research at Colorado State University on several occasions, the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture, and the Institute for Rural Futures of the University of New England (UNE) in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. Currently, he holds an adjunct appointment at UNE and is the International Research Coordinator in the Centre for Rural Crime, Safety and Security, which housed within the Institute for Rural Futures.

Sherrie R. Whaley

Assistant to the Dean for External Affairs, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA

Dr. Sherrie R. Whaley is assistant to the dean for external affairs at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Whaley holds a B.S. in English and mass communications from East Tennessee State University, a M.A. in journalism from The Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in extension education from The Ohio State University. She has worked as a daily newspaper reporter, a freelance writer/photographer, a university communications specialist, and a university professor at two Big Ten universities.

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