Tracking Media Trends in Portraying Risky Behaviors

Development of a website for analysis of media content of public health issues

Field of Work: Tracking risky behavior in the media

Problem Synopsis: Behaviors modeled on television reflect society, and certain audiences (e.g., adolescents) are likely to mimic or model demonstrated behaviors based on perceptions of risks or rewards involved. From a public health perspective, this "see-and-do" chain of events is especially troubling when it involves teenage audiences' exposure to media portrayals of rewards for risky activities like using drugs, alcohol, or nicotine; overeating; sexual intercourse; and interpersonal violence.

Synopsis of the Work: In late 2006, the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania launched a website, YouthMediaRisk.org, to make data and findings of the center’s Coding of Health and Media Project (CHAMP) available to the public. CHAMP is a large multi-year content analysis of health risk behaviors portrayed in popular U.S. movies, television shows, music, music videos and internet use.

Key Results: Since late 2006, YouthMediaRisk.org has provided scholars and practitioners with access to CHAMP’s data on the health risk behavior content of U.S. popular media from 1950 to 2006. The website also provides a list of the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s publications based on CHAMP data.