Illustration: Media, Influence of

A recent study form the Dartmouth Medical School says that middle school children who are allowed to watch R-rated movies are more likely to start drinking alcohol. Twenty-five percent of those who said their parents let them watch the movies "all the time" started drinking. Nineteen percent who said their parents let them watch "sometimes" had started drinking. Only 3 percent who were forbidden to watch R movies had started drinking.

While some of the result can be accounted for by parenting style, even when the study adjusted for that, seeing the movies still was linked to premature drinking. Analysts have noted that there may be other behaviors affected, as well. Sometimes ministers have been ridiculed for suggesting that what people watch in the media affects behavior. This study suggests that media indeed can affect behavior. Parents should take note.