Many YouTube videos that show drunkenness portray excessive alcohol consumption in a positive light, a new study finds.
The videos with the most "likes" were funny, Time reports.
The 70 most popular videos that showed drunkenness accounted for more than 330 million views, the University of Pittsburgh researchers found. There was little portrayal of the negative side of drinking too much, they report in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
The researchers searched on YouTube for the words "drunk," "buzzed," "hammered," "tipsy," and "trashed." They picked the most popular videos in those categories. The most common beverage featured was hard alcohol. Almost half of the videos referred to a specific brand of alcohol.
"There has been little research examining Internet-based, alcohol-related messaging," lead author Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, said in a news release. "While we know that some viewers may be savvy enough to skeptically view music videos or advertisements portraying intoxication as fun, those same viewers may be less cynical when viewing user-generated YouTube videos portraying humorous and socially rewarding escapades of a group of intoxicated peers."
Primack said he was concerned that nearly half the videos contained specific brand references. He noted past research has linked exposure to brand references in popular media to encouraging alcohol consumption.
Public health officials could use YouTube to reach teens and young adults about the negative consequences of excessive drinking, the researchers said.