Media and the new technology constantly provide new and challengingopportunities for adolescent exposure to substance and drug. The newmantra of fighting substance abuse commonly known as war on drugs hasbeen waged for many years but has done very little to prevent youthsfrom using and abusing substances, especially marijuana, alcohol andtobacco. Research conducted by Brian et al (2008) sought tocarry out a wide-ranging content examination of substance use inpresent-day in style songs. The contribution of media to youth drugand substance abuse has in the recent times become an area ofinterests to many scholars.
Brian et al (2008) used the most popular songs as ranked bybillboard magazine, evaluating the number of times each song hadreference to substance use. These songs were then coded into 3 maindomains based on the ‘’social learning model, motivation foruse, association with use and consequences’’ (Brian et al4). Out of a sample of 279 unique songs ranging from pop, rock, R&B, country music and rap 41.6% had a material use reference ofat least one area under scrutiny, place, and wallpaper, explicit andfigurative. 33.3% of the songs had explicit substance use reference.In this study alcohol was found to the most frequently referenceddrug, followed by marijuana and use of other illicit substances.Tobacco was the least frequently referenced substance with only amere 2.9% of the songs mentioning it. Reference to substance usevaried significantly depending on the genre of the songs, with rapsong recording the uppermost incidences of reference while popsongs contained the lowest rate of references to every of thesubstances and drugs under study (Brian et al, 4).
The study revealed that substance use is mostly aggravated by grouppressure and sex, and it has a close connection with sex and parties.In addition the financial, sexual, social and emotional consequencesof the use of the substance under the study are more frequentlyportrayed as affirmative as negative, while the physical and legalconsequences of the use of the aforesaid substances are portrayed asmore negative than positive. On average adolescent between the age of15-18 are exposed to more than 2.4 hours of trendycompositions every day. This study also established that this groupof young adults is exposed to more than 84 references of explicitsubstance use every day, close to 600 every week and about 30,000every year (Brian et al, 4). Popular music such as pop, rockand represent a vey insidious origin of exposure to thepositive portrays of drug and substance use.
This is a convincing proof that exposure to particular mediamessages through popular music such as pop and rock has the potentialof motivating adolescents to engage in substance abuse (Shadel,Martino, Scharf and Setodji 387-392). For example, viewing theirpopular music artists smoking marijuana and the richest popular iconusing alcohol can spark adolescent smoking initiation. The useof alcoholic beverages is also strongly associated with actualalcohol use. As confirmed by the social learning model, thebehavior of a person is not only shaped by the experience butalso by contact and publicity of model behavior, like the onerepresented in popular culture and music.
Monitoring Media Content
It is a known fact that drug and substance abuse not only aggravatesthe severity of chronic ailments but can also cause death (Brian etal, 7). A study conducted by the Pew Research Center has revealedthat more than 75% of adults in America would want a more proactiveapproach by the local and federal authorities in arresting thepervasion being propagated by media through popular culture and music(Shadel, Martino, Scharf and Setodji 387-392). Monitoring thecontent of the media must involve a concerted effort by all the mediafirms and federal government. In the United States the constitutionaccords every person the right to express themselves freely withoutinterference, provided in the process of exercising this right onedoes not infringe on the right of other individuals. In this line, itis a gargantuan task the local and federal government to monitormedia content in isolation, all the stakeholders including mediaowners and social sites promoters must congregate to formulatepolicies that shall eradicate pervasive contents. The media industryremains responsible for the contents in different platforms, and itis the only institution that can chart an ethically apt course indelivering it (Shadel, Martino, Scharf and Setodji 387-392).Government can enact a limited antitrust exemption that shall permitthe media and entertainment industry to carry out a discussion andstrike an agreement on how to formulate and develop voluntaryguidelines and ensure all media outlets comply with the rating systemthat shall be established. This will also facilitate creation of aplatform where uniform rating structure for their content shall beestablished.
Regulation and monitoring is a process that consumes colossal sumsof resources and because there has not been any functional mediamonitoring mechanism, the national government is the only institutionwith the capacity and authority to conduct such an undertaking. Thisis also a venture that will not yield any benefit inform of profitand as such it will solely be conducted for the social benefits. Inthis way the U.S government can make sure that the media isresponsible and can voluntarily shy away from contents that not onlycorrupt the moral standards of Americans but also pervade the ethicalstandards and health of the nation.
Brian A.P.,Madeline A. D., Mary V. C., Aaron A. A.,, BS Michael J.F. Content Analysis of Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs inPopular Music. Indiana University School of Medicine.2008.
Shadel,G.W.,Martino, C.S.,Scharf,D and Setodji,C. Exposure toPro-Smoking Media in College Students. Does Type of MediaChannel Differentially Contribute to Smoking Risk? RandCorporation.Annals of Behavioral Medicine, v. 45, no. 3, June 2013,p. 387-392