As families get ready to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow, what else will they see besides touchdowns and field goals?

Ads promoting alcohol and other products geared toward an older audience.

Christy Buchanan, professor of psychology at Wake Forest University and an expert on parent-child relationships, says parents shouldn’t squirm on the couch until each round of beer ads is over, but should take action.

They can turn uncomfortable moments in front of the TV into “values moments” with their children.

“It is important for parents to address issues and share their values. So, when beer commercials come on, talk about your views on drinking. There are so many societal messages that say ‘drinking makes life fun.’ This is a parent’s opportunity to say what they think and start a discussion,” said Buchanan.

Professional football is by far the most popular sport to watch among kids; 66% of kids ages 7 through 11 say they watch pro football on television.

A study by the non-profit group Common Sense Media reviewed nearly 6,000 commercials in 60 NFL games in a recent season and found they were generally anything but kid-friendly:

  • 300 of the ads were for alcohol
  • 40% of the games included advertisements for erectile-dysfunction drugs
  • 500 of the advertisements involved significant levels of violence, including gun fights, explosions, and murders
  • 80 of the advertisements involved significant levels of sexuality, including scenes about prostitution and strippers

With these figures in your mind, you might be worried you’ll have to miss the game all together in favor of shielding your kids from potentially salacious advertisements, but you don’t have to be.

“I do think that doing things like the Super Bowl can be ‘family bonding’ events despite the commercials,” said Buchanan.

She offers some easy tips for parents trying to figure out what to do when a kindergartner asks, “What’s Viagra?” or a teenager comments on how much fun people are having in a beer commercial:

  • Take a “values moment”: Leave the TV on, but talk about family values. For older children (middle school age and up), use the opportunity to engage children in conversation, particularly about issues such as drinking.
  • Ask children what they think about what they are seeing or hearing, then respond to their perceptions and reactions.
  • Switch channels and find another show: For younger children, hit the previous channel button to Animal Planet or “Sponge Bob” on the remote control. Go back to the game in two minutes.
  • Mute the TV: Without the sound, commercials lose a lot of their impact. Use this time to talk about what’s happening in the game.