YouTube music videos that contain sexual imagery or lyrics promoting alcohol use are likely to influence adolescents negatively, a study has warned.
The study found that video content involving alcohol was also associated with sexual imagery including objectification of women, that influenced personal image, lifestyle and sociability of the user.
Some videos also showed encouragement of excessive drinking including those with branded alcohol, with no negative consequences to the drinker shown.
“Adolescent alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, is a significant health problem,” said lead author Joanne Cranwell, Psychologist at the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTS), and from The University of Nottingham in Britain.
“Excessive drinking in young adults is also linked to criminal behaviour, unprotected sex, progression to illegal drug use and is also a risk factor for alcohol dependence in later life,” Cranwell added.
Out of a sample of 2,000, in the age group of 15 to 16-year-olds, 11 per cent reportedly had sex under the influence of alcohol and regretted it later.
Almost 10 per cent of boys and 12 per cent of girls reported having unsafe sex after drinking, the study said.
Further, the overt use of celebrity endorsement or brand ambassadors for alcohol products in music videos appears to contravene voluntary codes of practice.
In addition, the research also claimed that several alcohol companies have adopted marketing strategies that contravene their own advertising codes of practice.
Previous studies have found that teenagers were heavily exposed to images of alcohol and tobacco in YouTube music, effectively glamourising the habit and promoting underage drinking and smoking.
In the new research, the team specifically studied the portrayal of alcohol content in popular YouTube music videos, analysing song lyrics and visual imagery in 49 British Top 40 videos, including the Official Singles Chart UK Top 40 and the Vodafone Big Top 40 music chart.
New measures to curb the inclusion of smoking and drinking content in YouTube music videos, which unlike TV and film, are not classified according to age suitability are imperative, the researchers warned.
Moreover, artists and music video producers should also change their policy of effectively glamourising and normalising excessive drinking and linking it with sexual attractiveness and luxurious lifestyle, they suggested.
The study is published in the International Journal of Behavioural Medicine.