Aims: To determine if adolescents who report that their parents restrict viewing movies based on rating have a lower risk of trying smoking and drinking alcohol in the future.
Design: Prospective observational study. A cohort of 2110 German adolescents younger than 15 years who had never smoked or drunk alcohol at baseline were surveyed 12-13 months later to determine smoking and binge drinking initiation. Risk of substance use was assessed as a function of parental restriction on viewing FSK-16 movies (movies that only those aged 16 years and over would be allowed to see in theaters).
Findings: The percentage of students who tried smoking was 16.3%, 10.9% initiated binge drinking and 5.0% used both substances during the follow-up period. There was a significant effect of parental movie restriction on each substance use outcome measure after controlling for covariates. Compared with adolescents whose parents never allowed them to view FSK-16 movies, the adjusted relative risk [(RR) (95% confidence interval (CI)] for use of both substances were 1.64 (1.05-2.58) for adolescents allowed to view them once in a while, 2.30 (1.53-3.45) for sometimes and 2.92 (1.83-4.67) for all the time. FSK-16 restrictions were associated with lower viewership of all classes of movies, but especially FSK-16/18 movies; in addition, FSK-16 restrictions were associated with substantially lower exposure to movie depiction of tobacco and alcohol use, suggesting a mediational mechanism for the association.
Conclusions: Among young adolescents, parental restriction from viewing movies rated for older adolescents/adults decreases the risk of substance use in the future.