3 11 2008

RAND Study links viewing sexual content on TV with teen pregnancy—even when factors such as grades, family structure and parent’s level of education was taken into account.

Is this surprising to anyone??????

I consider myself a fairly hip, open and progressive person. But, even I am uncomfortable with the amount of sexuality on TV today, particularly among shows that are marketed to “teens.”

Two and a Half Men—Emmy-award winning “family” sitcom starring a teen—mentions sex EVERY episode THROUGHOUT every episode. Now it’s in syndication.

Reality shows like Tila Tequila, The Real World, Flavor of Love, Rock of Love and so many more have young people with fake breasts, dressing scantily, stripping for men, and having sex with one another. With NO consequences.
Here are some of my concerns:

  • Casual sex is glamorized

  • There is no discussion about contraception, unplanned pregnancies, or STDs

  • It is everywhere, all the time—sometimes in your face, sometimes subtly—but it is always there seeping into their developing brains

Some will argue that these shows are just “reflecting” what teens are really doing…….
Teens drink alcohol and experiment with marijuana and other drugs. If the majority of programming on TV had young people drinking heavily and using drugs, there would be public outrage.

Adolescence is about figuring out who you are, what you believe and how you want to portray yourself to the world. Television should offer more options with healthy role models and guidance—or at least portray therealities related to early (and unprotected) sexual behavior.

My advice:

  • Get teens involved in activities so they are not watching hours of TV all day/night

  • No TVs in bedrooms, only shared family spaces so parents can better monitor teens’ viewing habits

  • “Just Say No”—parents should not allow teens to watch shows that they believe contains “over 18” material

  • Parents should WATCH what their teens are watching (with or without them around) to get a sense of the tone, the content, and the messages their children are soaking up daily

  • Parents need to educate their teens regarding what IS and IS NOT shown in these shows related to sexual behavior and the emotional and physical consequences that the shows don’t talk about

Clearly sex on TV isn’t the only thing impacting teen’s pregnancy rates, but now we have some research showing it is one piece of the puzzle that we must address……..

For more advice on TEENS, check out my book WHEN TO WORRY: How to Tell if Your Teen Needs Help—and What to Do About It




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