I am 14 years old and I want to talk about alcohol and especially the advertising around it and the general normalisation from both on and offline media. I hope it’s interesting for people to read about the things you see from a young person’s perspective.
I don’t drink myself and most of my friends don’t. But alcohol advertising is everywhere and it’s impossible to avoid. What got me first thinking about this was a recent experience in a supermarket when I went to buy a Mother’s Day card and it struck me how many alcohol related cards there were. Rows upon rows of cards were telling me how I ‘only had to last till 5 on my special day’ or asking me if it was ‘wine o’clock yet’.
Looking at these cards, I thought about how merchandise like this normalises the idea of getting wasted and plays off an idea that it is encouraged and seen as nothing out of the ordinary. We have to ask, what sort of message does this send out to kids?
If I went on my phone and started watching videos on YouTube, I would inevitably come across alcohol adverts. There are adverts for lager telling me that ‘I’ve earned this’ or a cider advert showing people having the best time ever while sipping the product.
I think that online advertising for alcohol should be monitored more and on channels viewed by children, alcohol adverts should be blocked. Social media sites are now under pressure to filter out all sorts of content – why not alcohol?
Having alcohol played in any random video that a child can and will watch, teaches them that it`s not only acceptable but cool and encourages them to drink. This is one of many forms where advertising shows alcohol in a positive light and by being everywhere it will lead kids to associate it as being a positive thing.
From my own experiences I have seen “seshes” where people have been mortal drunk and fallen, resulting in bleeding noses and smashed teeth. A friend of mine was a smoker and stopped, however during a “sesh” when he was drunk he had some cigarettes, leading him to start smoking again. Often the drink is taken from the fridge or sometimes even given by parents.
When the kids who drink get the alcohol for a sesh they also sometimes put it on sites like snapchat, further normalising the consumption and also encouraging others to do the same. Some parents might find this shocking but when you go back to the cards in the supermarket, you have to ask, is it really all that surprising?
Maybe we need to think a bit more about the messages we are sending out.