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Children ages 10 to 12 feel ambivalent about smoking and drinking, suggests a new study. They have both positive and negative associations with alcohol and cigarettes at this age, according to PsychCentral.

Lead researcher Dr. Roisin O’Connor of Concordia University in Canada says the results indicate the “tween” years are an important time to prevent substance abuse. “We need to be concerned when kids are ambivalent because this is when they may be more easily swayed by social influences,” she said in a news release.

The study included about 400 children, who participated in a computer-based test that required them to place pictures of cigarettes and alcohol with positive or negative words. Dr. O’Connor found that while children initially thought cigarettes and alcohol were bad, they were easily able to start thinking of them as good when they were asked to place them with positive words.

“From this we saw how well the participants were able to categorize the pictures in the way that was asked. Using a mathematical formula of probabilities, we were able to identify how often responses were answered with impulsive and thoughtful processes as they related to drinking and smoking,” she said.

The study appears in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.


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