Objective. To understand better the relationship between adolescents' use of the mass media (including television, radio, and magazines) and their risky or unhealthy behaviors.
Design. Secondary data analysis of a 1987 in-home survey of 2760 randomly selected 14- to 16-year-old adolescents in 10 urban areas in the southeastern United States.
Measurement. The extent of participation in eight potentially risky behaviors (sexual intercourse, drinking, smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana, cheating, stealing, cutting class, and driving a car without permission) and the use of a variety of mass media.
Results. Adolescents who had engaged in more risky behaviors listened to radio and watched music videos and movies on television more frequently than those who had engaged in fewer risky behaviors, regardless of race, gender, or parents' education. White male adolescents who reported engaging in five or more risky behaviors were most likely to name a heavy metal music group as their favorite. Adolescents reported reading a wide diversity of magazines, and most reported reading at least one of a few selected magazines. Sports and music magazines were most likely to be read by adolescents who had engaged in many risky behaviors.
Conclusions. Mass media health promotion efforts could more specifically target adolescents who are engaging in multiple risky behaviors.