Jul
23
2007

You darn kids don’t listen!

We post this photo with great reluctance: We know that teenagers have no will of their own, and a single media image of smoking, or sex, or violence, or ANYTHING will instantly turn them into anti-social hooligans.  Yeah, right. Photo by ronsho at flickr.com
We post this photo with great reluctance: We know that teenagers have no will of their own, and a single media image of smoking, or sex, or violence, or ANYTHING will instantly turn them into anti-social hooligans. Yeah, right. Photo by ronsho at flickr.com

Hot on the heels of our scathing expose that teenage girls talk too much, comes another shocking report from the No Duh! Department: teenagers don’t listen.

A study at the University of Georgia shows that middle school students who have seen anti-smoking ads are actually more likely to smoke. In fact, the more ads they see, the greater the chance they will light up.

Hye-Jin Paek, an assistant professor at the University, speculates the ads backfire because of the natural instinct for kids and teens to do the opposite of what they are told. (See: Beans Up Your Nose, Don’t Put.)

Paek suggests

[A]ds should focus on convincing teens their friends are heeding the anti-smoking warning because peer pressure has the most direct effect…. "It doesn't really matter what their peers are actually doing."

More damn adult lies.

Meanwhile, here’s a review of an anti-drug campaign which the writer suspects is more effective than the typical “horror story” approach.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Malcolm Gladwell's 2000 book "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference" has an entire chapter devoted to this topic. A lot of it is along the same lines as this article. There are two points that have stuck with me all these years:

One is that kids don't smoke because smoking is cool. In fact, when asked, most people--including teens--actually OVERSTATE the risk of smoking. So why then do they do it? Gladwell thinks it's because people with the cluster of traits that we often (but not always) associate with "coolness" are the ones most likely to take risks. (That's part of what makes them, in some eyes, cool.)

His other point is that when you look at statistics about drug, alcohol, and cigarette use in America, it becomes pretty clear that a huge number of us have tried some or all of them. And yet most of us are not addicts. Nothing horrible happened to us for experimenting. Lots of us indulge, one way or another, socially. But people go beyond that. They get hooked. Gladwell's point is that if you want to have any credibility at all, you have to speak to people's experience. And you have to figure out how to get them to stop before they reach that tipping point.

It's a fascinating book. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

posted on Mon, 07/23/2007 - 1:07pm

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