London: British teenagers are heavily exposed to images and lyrics about alcohol and tobacco in digital YouTube music videos, says a study.
The findings of the study revealed that 13-15 year olds, and especially girls, were the most exposed.
Music videos pose a “significant health hazard that requires appropriate regulatory control”, warned the researchers.
The evidence, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, suggested that teens exposed to depictions of alcohol and tobacco content in films are more likely to start smoking or drinking.
Using the results of two nationally representative online surveys of British adults and teens, the researchers calculated the viewing figures for the 32 most popular music videos of top 40 chart songs for a period of 12 weeks.
In all, 2,068 teens aged between 11 and 18, and 2,232 adults from the age of 19 onwards attempted the survey.
Based on population census data, the researchers calculated that these delivered a total of 1,006 million impressions of alcohol and 203 million of tobacco.
Teens aged between 13-15 received an average of 11.48 tobacco and 52.11 alcohol impressions. Furthermore, exposure was around 65 percent higher among girls.
“Trumpets” by Jason Derulo, and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke delivered some of the highest number of tobacco impressions, while “Timber” by Pitbull, and “Drunk in Love” by Beyoncé, delivered the most alcohol content.
While films are classified, and TV content is subject to controls during periods when children are likely to be watching, no such regulations apply to digital music videos.
Relatively little attention has been paid to YouTube content, despite the fact that some music videos contain extensive alcohol and tobacco content, the researchers said.