In the latest scientific study to pin the blame for these kids today on everyone but their self-absorbed parents, the Journal Of Studies On Alcohol And Drugs has published findings that say children who are allowed to watch R-rated films are much more likely to start drinking at an early age. According to the report, researchers who surveyed nearly 3,600 New England middle-school students over the course of two years discovered that “3 percent of the kids who said their parents never allowed them to watch R-rated movies said they had started drinking alcohol, compared with 19 percent of those who were sometimes allowed to watch R-rated movies and 25 percent of those who said they were allowed to watch such movies ‘all the time.’” And as with most studies involving kids and their behavior, correlation naturally equals causation, with author Dr. James D. Sargent pointing out that his findings seem to support previous, similar studies that suggested exposure to “adult content” can also lead to drinking, smoking, sex at a young age, and violence. Well, that's ironclad then, isn't it?
Of course, what it does not point out—as with most studies that try to explain kids’ behavior using pop culture as a scapegoat, and we can’t believe we’re still having this conversation in 2010—is that kids who are “allowed to watch R-rated movies all the time” most likely have parents who are already fairly libertine about what their kids are doing, which means many of them (say, 25 percent) basically do whatever they want, including drinking underage—or, at least, bragging to some nerd scientist that they do. Also not taken into consideration, as PopWatch points out: The sweeping generalization that all R-rated movies are created the same, and that the “change in personality” they can jumpstart in impressionable young folk is always a bad thing; imagine, for example, the sheltered lives being led by those kids who have been raised to think that all R-rated films are inherently immoral. But then, we don’t have a random polling of middle-school kids to quantify any of that, so science wins this round.