The Association Between Child Alcohol Sipping and Alcohol Expectancies in the ABCD Study
Underage alcohol use is a serious societal concern, yet relatively little is known about child sipping of alcohol and its relation to beliefs about alcohol. The current study aimed to (1) examine the contexts in which the first sip of alcohol occurs (e.g., type of alcohol, who provided sip, sip offered or taken without permission); (2) examine the association between sipping and alcohol expectancies; and (3) explore how different contexts of sipping are related to alcohol expectancies. This study expected to find that children who had sipped alcohol would have increased positive expectancies and reduced negative expectancies compared to children who had never sipped alcohol.
Data were derived from the 2.0 release of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, a longitudinal study of children in the United States. The present study utilized data from 4,842 children ages 9–11; 52% were male, 60% were White, 19% were Hispanic/Latinx, and 9% were Black/African American.
This study found that 22% of the sample had sipped alcohol. Children reported sipping beer most frequently, and the alcoholic beverage most often belonged to the child’s father. It was found that children who had sipped had higher positive alcohol expectancies than children who had not while accounting for variables related to alcohol expectancies. Child sipping was not significantly associated with negative expectancies and the context of the first sip of alcohol was not significantly associated with positive and negative expectancies.
Providing sips of alcohol to children is associated with them having more favorable expectations about alcohol use.
Research in context
The children who sipped alcohol were more likely to agree with positive framing of alcohol such as the statement “alcohol helps a person relax, feel happy, feel less tense, and can keep a person’s mind off of mistakes at school or work.” They also were more likely to agree with the statement “alcohol makes people want to have fun together.”
Those who’ve had a sip are more likely to report thinking that alcohol has positive effects, and that’s important because we know that the thoughts about the effects of alcohol are related to starting up [alcohol use] and ultimately [using alcohol] more heavily,” said Joshua Gray lead author of the study from Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, as per Partnership to End Addiction.
Bottom line, parents should not be giving their kids sips of alcohol.”Joshua Gray lead author of the study, Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland