Title

Depictions of Injuries and Safety Gear Usage in the World’s Most Popular Video Games

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2014

Abstract

Throughout the world, nearly 4 million children die annually as a result of an unintentional injury. From the perspectives of cultivation theory and sociallearning theory, children’s risk for injury may be influenced by a variety of sources, including media. Previous research suggests that many media sources, including television programs and popular movies, display risky behaviors and a general disregard for safety. The present study added to this literature by quantifying the extent to which a popular form of media, video games, displays injury events and appropriate utilization of safety gear. Research assistants coded trailers of the world’s most popular video games across 13 different genres. Acceptable reliability estimates across assistants were obtained, and results revealed that many video games do not portray safety restraint devices, helmets, or other safety gear. Less than 3% of games show primary characters wearing safety restraint devices while they are driving a vehicle, and helmets are rarely displayed when characters ride bicycles or skateboards. Significant differences in the portrayal of injury events and safety gear usage emerged across Entertainment Software Rating Board ratings. Implications for the video game industry are discussed.

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