Risk-Glorifying Media Linked to Reckless Behavior

WEDNESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) — People exposed to video games, television, movies, music and advertising that glorify risky behavior are more likely to take real-life risks, new research suggests.

In the new report, researchers analyzed studies that were conducted between 1983 and 2009 in the United States and Europe, and included a total of more than 80,000 people. The majority of the participants were aged 16 to 24, but some of the studies included older and younger people.

The link between risk taking and risk-glorifying media was found across different research methods, media formats and various forms of risk, the authors noted. Both short-term and long-term effects are likely, and greater exposure may lead to increased risk taking, according to the report published online in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

“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,” Peter Fischer, a psychology professor at the University of Regensburg in Germany, and colleagues wrote.

Video games that glorify risk — such as street racing video games — were more likely to trigger dangerous behavior than passive media such as movies or music. However, previous studies have found that when young people watch movies that show smoking or alcohol use, they are more likely to drink more or smoke later in life, Fischer’s team noted in a journal news release.

“These results support recent lines of research into the relationship between risk taking and the media,” the researchers concluded. “There is indeed a reliable connection between exposure to risk-glorifying media content and risk-taking behaviors, cognitions and emotions.”

More information

The Nemours Foundation outlines healthy habits for children’s use of TV, video games and the Internet.