Think Again History
The conceptual model represented by the theme “Think Most Kids Drink? Think Again!” is grounded in research that demonstrates the importance of perceived social norms in young people’s decisions about alcohol use. For a variety of reasons, including a barrage of media messages that glamorize alcohol use, young people often overperceive these norms.
The research shows that 6th graders, when asked what proportion of kids their age drink, on average answer about half – which is far above the actual rates. In Maine, survey results show that only 37% of middle school students have ever had more than a sip of alcohol and only 16% used alcohol in the 30 days prior to the survey.
Further, the research goes on to show that students who overestimate the proportion of drinkers are more likely to drink than those who correctly estimate their peers’ behavior. Clearly, students’ decisions about alcohol use are often shaped by their beliefs about what is “normal” – and too often their perceptions about what everybody else is doing are wrong.
This approach recognizes that peer pressure is more subtle than a friend offering a beer. The campaign addresses one facet of the complex social pressures teenagers face – the pressure to conform to what they mistakenly believe everybody else is doing. While these subtle social pressures influence people of all ages, they are particularly critical for middle school students, who are just beginning to face decisions about experimenting with alcohol. This campaign is not a magic bullet – it is one piece in a multi-pronged and comprehensive approach to the problem.
The Office of Substance Abuse and the Council on Children and Families sponsored a contest in December 2001 to reinforce the theme of the new media campaign. The contest was open to any group of middle school aged youth in Maine . Each participating group submitted a list of all the reasons they could think of why kids their age don’t drink. Two grand prizes were awarded:
- Overall winner: Bristol Consolidated School , 6th grade – listed 142 reasons
- Per Capita winner: Islesboro Central School , 6th grade – 6 youth listed 90 reasons
The Public Service Announcements
The two 30-second television public service announcements were designed to reach a target audience of kids starting at age 12.
Annia and Matt, two Maine teenagers featured prominently in the two separate 30-second television advertisements, help dispel the myth that most kids drink. They are joined by other Maine youth who cite a variety of reasons they don’t drink.
The campaign begins January 3, 2002 , and will run on television stations
throughout Maine for ten weeks.