Researchers ask: Does YouTube promote underage drinking in the UK?

 - Liquors

YouTube music videos that contain lyrics and imagery glamorizing alcohol may be leading to harmful underage drinking in teenagers according to researchers at the U.K. Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.

This research comes on the cusp of previous work the organization has done that showed that U.K. teens were being exposed to images of alcohol and tobacco from YouTube music that have put those substances in a positive light.

This current research now takes a look at YouTube music videos from U.K.'s Top 40 videos chart, which are then analyzed for lyrics and imagery that contain references to alcohol and tobacco.

They found that videos portraying alcohol were normally associated with the objectification of women and sexualized imagery, while also being linked to an appealing lifestyle, personal image and being surrounded by friends. The videos also almost always showed no consequences for drinking in excess.

"Adolescent alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, is a significant health problem in the U.K.," said lead author Joanne Cranwell. " Among young people, particularly, it is also linked to criminal behavior, unprotected sex, progression to illegal drug use and is a risk factor for alcohol dependence in later life. In the U.K., 11 percent of 15 and 16 year olds out of a sample of 2,000 had had sex under the influence of alcohol and regretted it and almost 10 percent of boys and 12 percent of girls reported having unsafe sex after drinking."

The U.K. Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies believes a link between the music videos and underage drinking exists. The group is calling for new rules to lessen the inclusion of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other substances in such videos. Currently, music videos are not subject to the same age policies and suitability grading as TV, film or video games. These new standards would hopefully reduce the use of alcoholic content in the videos, promoting better lessons for teenagers.