Cross-lagged Associations Between Substance Use-Related Media Exposure and Alcohol Use During Middle School

Published In: Journal of Adolescent Health, v. 53, no. 4, Oct. 2013, p. 460-464

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2013

by Joan S. Tucker, Jeremy N. V. Miles, Elizabeth J. D'Amico

Read More

Access further information on this document at Elsevier Inc

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Research Question

  1. Does media exposure related to alcohol or other drugs affect adolescents' alcohol use?

PURPOSE: This study examines the reciprocal longitudinal associations between alcohol or other drug (AOD)-related media exposure and alcohol use among middle school students, and explores whether these associations differ by ethnicity or gender. METHODS: The analytic sample is 7th grade students who were recruited from 16 California middle schools and surveyed in the spring semester of two academic years. Students reported on their background characteristics, exposure to seven types of AOD-related media content (Internet videos, social networking sites, movies, television, magazine advertisements, songs, and video games) in the past 3 months, and alcohol use in the past 30 days. Structural equation modeling was used to examine cross-lagged associations between media exposure and alcohol use. RESULTS: Greater AOD-related media exposure in 7th grade was significantly associated with a higher probability of alcohol use in 8th grade (p = .02), and alcohol use in 7th grade was marginally associated with greater AOD-related media exposure in 8th grade (p = .07). These cross-lagged associations did not statistically differ by ethnicity (Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic white) or gender. Further, there was no evidence that certain types of media exposure were more strongly associated with alcohol use than others. CONCLUSIONS: Results from this study suggest that AOD-related media effects and media selectively form a reciprocal, mutually influencing process that may escalate adolescent alcohol use over time. Addressing adolescents' exposure to AOD-related media content and its effects on behavior, such as through media literacy education, may hold promise for improving the efficacy of alcohol prevention efforts for middle school students.

Key Findings

  • Exposure to substance use-related media may increase adolescents' alcohol use over time.
  • Media literacy education may increase the effectiveness of alcohol prevention efforts for middle school students.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation external publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.