Super Bowl Ads and Kids

Kara Powell | Feb 15, 2010

My friend, Brian Raison from Ohio State, sent me the press release below by the Drug-Free Action Alliance about how teenagers responded to the Super Bowl. During the Super Bowl, the friends that we had over all agreed how pervasive alcohol ads were. Note below that students didn’t vote those their favorites. I like the encouragement below to TALK to kids about tough subjects, including alcohol. Parents and youth workers can use ads as a springboard for deeper conversation…

Now here’s the press release:

According to the more than 30,000 middle and high school students nationwide, who participated in the Drug-Free Action Alliance Super Bowl Survey; while alcohol ads were widely remembered, they did not place in the top three favorites among youth, as in past surveys.

Doritos stole the show, with kids voting three different Doritos commercials as their top picks.

NATIONAL Middle School High School

#1 Doritos: Hands Off Doritos: Hands Off

#2 Doritos: Shock Collar Doritos: Shock Collar

#3 Doritos: Stole Tims Doritos Doritos: Stole Tims Doritos

#4 Bud Light: Stranded Budweiser: Human Bridge

#5 Bud Light: Clydesdale Snickers: Betty White

(Results based on over 30,000 middle and high school students within 38 states.)

It is refreshing to see youth choosing commercials promoting a snack product for their top three favorites, however, there were plenty of alcohol ads, and based on the survey, kids definitely took note of it, said Patricia Harmon, executive director for Drug-Free Action Alliance.

Not only did alcohol ads show up in the top five favorites, but when middle and high school students were asked about the products they remembered being advertised, alcohol was the second highest item recalled by both age groups (following closely behind food items).

The concern is the influence of alcohol advertising on young minds, said Harmon. “Considering youth, under the age of 21, make up about 18% of the Super Bowl viewing audience, we know there are a lot of underage people being exposed to alcohol advertising.

Research shows that the more youth are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to drink, drink more often and drink to excess. The effects of alcohol on developing adolescent minds and bodies can be devastating and long lasting.

Each day, 8,000 kids (between the ages of 12-17) take their first drink of alcohol. Those who begin drinking before age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol problems later in life. Alcohol is associated with a variety of risky behaviors including teen violence, car crashes and sexual assaults (among many others) and can cause permanent damage to the still developing adolescent brain.

Though it is unrealistic to think parents could possibly shield their children from all alcohol advertising, there is something parents can do; talk to their children. Research reveals that kids whose parents talk to them often about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs are 50% less likely to use.

The next time your children are watching TV, we encourage you (parents) to sit down with them, making it a teachable moment. Use the commercials as an opportunity to teach your children to read between the lines of advertisements, building their media literacy skills, said Harmon. Its an easy way to bring up the topic of underage drinking and to encourage your children to make healthy choices and avoid risky behaviors.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.

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