Media Exposure, Hopelessness May Lead to Risky Behavior

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Multiple studies show that the link between extensive media exposure as an preteen or teenager leads to a significant increase of risky behaviors in adolescence and into young adulthood. These behaviors include drug and alcohol use, unsafe sex, smoking, aggressive/dangerous driving, street racing, gambling, physical confrontations and possibly arrest.

One study, lead by Valerie Carson with Queen’s University in Canada, showed that teens exposed to 4.5 hours or more of internet, TV, music, video games, and advertising were at risk for demonstrating multiple risky behaviors. Another study, lead by Peter Fischer, Ph.D., with the University of Regensburg in Germany, showed that video games glorifying risk are more likely to prompt dangerous behaviors than more passive media such as movies or music.

With many mental disorders, particularly bipolar disorder and its accompanying mania, patients exhibit these kinds of risky behaviors. Whether as a means of self-medication or hope of self-harm, young adults who have been and are exposed to extensive risk-glorifying media may adopt these behaviors as a coping mechanism.

Hopelessness is another factor contributing to this kind of behavior. Iris Borowsky, M.D., Ph.D., with the University of Minnesota, found that one in seven adolescents believe it is highly likely they will die before the age of 35. “These youth may take risks because they feel hopeless and figure not much is at stake,” said Borowsky.

She continued, “Our findings reinforce the importance of instilling a sense of hope and optimism in youth. Strong connections with parents, families, and schools, as well as positive media messages, are likely important factors in developing an optimistic outlook for young people.”

Despite all or any positive influences, many young adults continue to struggle with risky and potentially life threatening behaviors.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 407-215-2519 for more information.

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