In the YouTube universe, consuming alcohol is funny, drinkers are attractive and consequences minimal, a new study has found.
The study of the content of leading YouTube videos involving alcohol intoxication has found the videos commonly juxtaposed intoxication with humour and attractiveness while infrequently depicting negative clinical outcomes.
Brian A Primack, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and his colleagues systematically captured the 70 most relevant and popular videos on YouTube related to alcohol intoxication.
They subsequently created 42 codes in six categories:
video characteristics, character socio-demographics, alcohol depiction, degree of alcohol use, characteristics associated with alcohol, and consequences of alcohol.
“The 70 videos were each about four minutes long,” said Primack, corresponding author for the study.
“Combined, these videos had been viewed about a third of a billion times. They tended to involve males more than females, and almost half (44 per cent) referred to a specific brand name of alcohol,” said Primack.
“While active intoxication was frequently shown (86 per cent), only a few (7 per cent) referred to alcohol dependence or withdrawal. There were more ‘likes’ when humour was present versus when it was not, and more ‘positive sentiment’ when a brand name was mentioned, when liquor was mentioned, and when there was ‘attractiveness’ present,” Primack said.
“However, there was less positive sentiment when negative emotional or physical consequences from alcohol use were shown,” Primack added.
“I find it particularly important that liquor is featured most often in frequently viewed videos containing heavy drinking,” said Brooke Molina, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh.
“Given the high alcohol content of liquor, and the poor ability of young people to regulate their alcohol content in a knowledgeable and skilled way, this means that young people may be at increasing risk for dangerous drinking,” said Molina.
Researchers believe that YouTube might also be used to educate viewers about the realities of alcohol.
“It would be valuable for public health advocates to post such material,” Primack added.
The study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.