According to Mail Online, youngsters exposed to combinations of “risky” behaviour in the media that they watch are more likely to engage in similar behaviour themselves.
A team of scientists found that scenes only depicting one risky behaviour, such as sex on its own, were not enough to influence the attitudes of young people.
Combinations of a number of risky behaviours – such as drinking leading to sex – were found to lead to teenagers viewing these behaviours more positively, however.
“The purpose of this study was to determine whether media effects associated with exposure to multiple risk behaviours in television content have specific or more general effects on attitudes and norms associated with performing these behaviours,” the authors wrote in the paper.
“A brief exposure to combined risk behaviours in media may increase positive attitudes related to the combination behaviour [alcohol and sex], a component behaviour [alcohol], and also more general [smoking].”
More than 300 young people, aged 14 to 17, were involved in the study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania.
Experts asked teenagers to watch four categories of clips from the TV show Empire to make their findings.
This included scenes featuring either alcohol and sex, sex only, alcohol only, and those showing no risky behaviours.
Exposure to multiple risky behaviours was also found to make teens more likely to engage in other risky behaviours they hadn’t seen – such as smoking.