Previous studies on alcohol, tobacco, and violence suggest that children's behavior can be influenced by mass media; however, little is known about the effect of media on unintentional injuries, the leading cause of death among young persons in the United States.
To determine how injury prevention practices are depicted in G-rated (general audience) and PG-rated (parental guidance recommended) movies.
The 25 movies with the highest domestic box-office grosses and a rating of G or PG for each year from 1995 through 1997. Movies that were predominantly animated or not set in the present day were excluded from analysis.
Movie characters with speaking roles.
Main Outcome Measures
Safety belt use by motor vehicle occupants, use of a crosswalk and looking both ways by pedestrians crossing a street, helmet use by bicyclists, personal flotation device use by boaters, and selected other injury prevention practices.
Fifty nonanimated movies set in the present day were included in the study. A total of 753 person-scenes involving riding in a motor vehicle, crossing the street, bicycling, and boating were shown (median, 13.5 person-scenes per movie). Forty-two person-scenes (6%) involved falls or crashes, which resulted in 4 injuries and 2 deaths. Overall, 119 (27%) of 447 motor vehicle occupants wore safety belts, 20 (18%) of 109 pedestrians looked both ways before crossing the street and 25 (16%) of 160 used a crosswalk, 4 (6%) of 64 bicyclists wore helmets, and 14 (17%) of 82 boaters wore personal flotation devices.
In scenes depicting everyday life in popular movies likely to be seen by children, characters were infrequently portrayed practicing recommended safe behaviors. The consequences of unsafe behaviors were rarely shown. The entertainment industry should improve its depiction of injury prevention practices in G-rated and PG-rated movies.