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Is exposure to online content depicting risky behavior related to viewers’ own risky behavior offline?

Branley, Dawn Beverley; Covey, Judith

Is exposure to online content depicting risky behavior related to viewers’ own risky behavior offline? Thumbnail


Dawn Beverley Branley


There are public and governmental concerns that social media may encourage risky behavior in the offline environment. Using international survey data from 412 young adults aged between 18-25 years of age (M = 21.20 years, SD = 2.31 years), this study demonstrates that there is a relationship between exposure to online content depicting risky behavior and users’ own offline risky behavior. This relationship was found for six behaviors: drug use, excessive alcohol use, disordered eating, self-harm, violence to others, and dangerous pranks. A borderline effect was found for two further behaviors: unprotected sex and sex with a stranger. The relationship between content depicting disordered eating and offline behavior was only significant for females; suggesting that female users may be more vulnerable to effects of viewing content depicting disordered eating habits, and/or use social media content to find material related to their existing behavior. No other gender moderation effects were found. The findings provide preliminary evidence that social media use may influence offline risky behavior in young adults.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 15, 2017
Online Publication Date May 17, 2017
Publication Date May 17, 2017
Deposit Date May 17, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 18, 2017
Journal Computers in Human Behavior
Print ISSN 0747-5632
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 75
Pages 283-287
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (416 Kb)

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