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Is it bad for kids to watch movies featuring reckless driving?

There are many things in our culture that can have influences on children. One are the movies. The findings of a recent study raise an intriguing question about kids and the movies: could having watched certain types of movies as a kid make a teen driver or a young adult driver more likely to engage in reckless driving?

The study had 1,630 young Americans as subjects. The subjects were interviewed multiple times over the course of several years, starting in 2003. At the time of the initial survey, the age range of the subjects was 10 to 14.

In the initial survey, the subjects answered questions regarding whether they had watched certain popular movies that had scenes of dangerous driving in them. In the final interview, the subjects answered questions about their driving, such as whether they had engaged in reckless driving and whether they had engaged in inattentive driving.

While the researchers found no link between watching movies with reckless driving as a kid and a higher likelihood of engaging in inattentive driving as a young driver, it did find a connection between watching such movies and a higher chance of engaging in reckless driving. The study did not investigate what was causing this link. A possibility the findings raise though is that having seen reckless driving in the movies as a kid may make a young driver have fewer qualms about engaging in this sort of dangerous activity.

Promoting safe driving among teenage and young adult drivers is something our society puts a lot of focus on. This isn’t surprising given the great deal of harm young drivers can cause to themselves and others when they engage in reckless driving. This study raises some questions regarding whether kids seeing movies with reckless driving in them may be undermining such safe driving promotion efforts.

What is your opinion on the effect of movies with dangerous driving on kids? Do you think seeing reckless driving in movies can make kids less likely to see driving as perilous? Do you think parents should take into account whether a film has certain driving scenes in it when they are deciding what sorts of movies it is okay for their children to see? Do you think whether dangerous driving is present in a movie should play a major role in what sort of rating it is given?

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