Leniency on R-rated movies linked to kids’ smoking

Reuters Dec 3 2010
Kids whose parents let them watch R-rated movies may be up to three times more likely to start smoking compared to their more restricted peers, according to a new study. The Dutch and U.S. researchers suggest that parents’ leniency regarding movies could trigger smoking both by exposing kids to actors showcasing the habit and by simply opening the door to more thrill-seeking risky behaviors. “By being strict regarding R-rated movies, parents may play a part in preventing their children from developing higher levels of sensation-seeking and the associated risk for smoking,” lead researcher Rebecca N. H. de Leeuw of the Radboud University Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, told Reuters Health in an e-mail. Kids in the U.S. spend an average of six and a half hours a day using media, with the majority of that time spent watching TV and movies in which smoking is often portrayed and even glamorized. These positive depictions of smoking may be particularly common in R-rated movies, a category of films for which kids under the age of 17 are technically required to be accompanied by an adult. De Leeuw and her colleagues studied about 6,500 kids between the ages of 10 and 14 who had been randomly selected from the U.S. population in the mid-1990s and followed for two years.
..Given the small percentage of parents that kept their children from watching R-rated movies, it is likely that few realize the impact movies may have on their children, suggest the researchers in the journal Pediatrics.