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Media, Internet Drive Risky Behaviors

Media, Internet Drives Risky Behaviors Movies, cable television, video games and the Internet all have at least one thing in common — the ability to show viewers “life in the fast lane.” TV, video games and the Internet appear to be driving some risky behaviors, according to new data.

According to an analysis of more than 25 years of research, exposure via the media to activities such as street racing, binge drinking and unprotected sex is linked to risk-taking behaviors and attitudes.

The connection between risk taking and risk-glorifying media — such as video games, movies, advertising, television and music — was found across differing research methods, media formats and various forms of risky behaviors.

The effects are likely to occur both short- and long-term, while increased exposure is likely to be associated with increased risk-taking, according to an article published online in Psychological Bulletin.

The study’s lead author, Peter Fischer, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Regensburg in Germany, noted:

“It appears from our meta-analysis that risk-glorifying media has potentially grave consequences, such as innumerable incidences of fatalities, injuries and high economic costs in a broad variety of risk-taking domains, such as substance abuse, reckless driving, gambling and risky sexual behavior.”

Among the media examined, video games that glorify risk were more likely to prompt dangerous behavior than passive exposure, such as watching films or listening to music.

The authors examined research conducted between 1983 and 2009 in the United States and Europe, incorporating more than 80,000 participants. Most people were between the ages of 16 and 24, but some of the samples did include older and younger participants.

An analysis of this size helps prove that exposure to risk-glorifying media actually leads to riskier behavior, which was exemplified in several experiments, the authors said.

For example, in a typical experiment, participants were first exposed to media content that either glorified risk taking – such as pictures of extreme sports or street racing video games – or did not glorify such behavior.

Afterward, the researchers measured how willing the participants were to engage in certain types of risky behaviors, such as participating in extreme sports or reckless driving, measured in a computer simulation.

One study of 961 young adults found that those who watched movies showing people drinking were more likely to drink more and have alcohol-related problems later in life. Similar effects were found in other studies of smoking.

“These results support recent lines of research into the relationship between risk taking and the media,” said Fischer.

“There is indeed a reliable connection between exposure to risk-glorifying media content and risk-taking behaviors, cognitions and emotions.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Media, Internet Drive Risky Behaviors

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Media, Internet Drive Risky Behaviors. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/03/08/media-internet-drives-risky-behaviors/24228.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.