"In reality, that's probably not what's going to happen and the lack of consequences in films may give children a false sense of security," Tongren said.
Dr. Barbara Gaines, director of the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Program at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, agreed that the lack of consequences in films is a concern. "People are falling, crashing and having these events happen where they don't have the expected consequences. It's like when you watch animated cartoons and the character gets smooshed and then pops right back up. It makes me wonder what the impact of that is?" she said.
The study found that 56 percent of people in motor vehicles wore seatbelts; 35 percent of pedestrians used crosswalks; 75 percent of boaters wore life vests and 25 percent of bicyclists wore helmets.
Results of the current study are to be published in the February issue of Pediatrics.
When compared to the previous studies, the researchers did find that cinematic use of seatbelts, life vests, crosswalks and bicycle helmets had all increased.
"The entertainment industry has improved significantly, but Hollywood still has a long way to go," said Tongren, who added that "parents should take an active role in viewing movies and highlighting unsafe behaviors."
For example, he said, in a recent movie featuring "Hannah Montana" teen idol Miley Cyrus, her character was shown riding in the back of an SUV with her father -- and not wearing a seatbelt. Parents need to point out that's not the safest behavior.
Gaines said, "If you're watching a movie with your child and there's a major scene where someone didn't buckle up, give your kid a nudge, and say something like, 'Uh-oh, what did that guy forget to do?'"
As for consequences, she said it's important to point out to your child that if
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