Risk on Demand? A Quantitative Content Analysis of the Portrayal of Risky Health Behaviors in Popular on Demand Content

A Sadza, S Daalmans, E Rozendaal, M Buijzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Video on Demand (VOD) has become the most popular way for adolescent viewers to consume entertainment media, often without parental supervision. Given the potential for modeling, this study aims to investigate the prevalence and nature with which risky health behaviors are portrayed in popular VOD programs. A quantitative content analysis of trending programs (N = 529) from popular VOD-platforms investigated the prevalence, co-occurrence, tone, social context, and consequences with which alcohol use, tobacco use, drug use, unsafe sexual behavior, reckless behavior, and self-harm behaviors are portrayed in popular VOD programs. In addition, we analyzed the demographic characteristics of the characters who portrayed the risk behaviors Risk behaviors were portrayed frequently, with substance use behaviors (i.e. alcohol, smoking, drugs) being most prevalent and most likely to co-occur. Reckless behavior, self-harm behaviors, and explicitly unsafe sexual behaviors were much less common. Findings show that risk behavior was often portrayed in a normalized manner, with alcohol and smoking, in particular, being portrayed as neutral behaviors that rarely have consequences. Most risk-taking characters were (young) adult white males, mirroring the general overrepresentation of this demographic in popular media. Risk behavior was rarely problematized in popular on demand content. Potential consequences for adolescent viewers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Research programs

  • ESSB PSY

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