When is it OK for my kid to watch shows that have alcohol, drugs, and smoking in them?

There are several reasons to limit exposure when kids are little. Numerous studies link drugs, alcohol, and smoking in the media (both in advertising and as part of a TV show) to underage substance use and abuse. Young kids are still learning about the world by watching and imitating others, and they are likely to mimic the behavior they see on-screen. Since little kids don't know what drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes are, they may be confused or frightened by their effects on a character. And the earlier kids are exposed to drugs, alcohol, and smoking, the more likely they are to accept them as part of regular life.

That doesn't stop movies, TV shows, games, music, and advertising from depicting this stuff, of course. Around age 10 kids can understand and discuss what they view -- plus they become more exposed to and possibly interested in media that portrays drinking, drug use, and smoking. Use these tips to help guide your media choices for your young kids:

  • Any drinking or drug use should have negative consequences.
  • Humor associated with being drunk or high isn't age-appropriate.
  • Any substance use should be in the background, conducted by responsible adults in social situations, and not done to excess.

Learn more about studies researching the impact on kids of alcohol in the media, smoking in the media, and drugs in the media.

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