Monday, October 25, 2010

Teens using TV as a Guide for Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors

One of the things I’ve always loved about children is watching them absorb the world around them, like sponges. They sometimes have such a funny take on things. Children and teens have inquiring minds. And even if we don’t see evidence of it sometimes, they have rapidly developing brains, too. What they are exposed to during this time can have a big influence on them.

A recent study has found that television can be quite a powerful influence on teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors. As reported in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, researchers from the University of Michigan found that high school students in their study reported a higher endorsement of sexual stereotypes when they watched more talk shows and “sexy” prime-time programs and also when they watched TV to fill their need for companionship.

For example, these students were “more likely to agree that sex is recreational, and that men are sexually driven, and that women are sexual objects”. Their findings also suggest that these students may be relying heavily on media for developing their own social norms and values. Is this a good idea?

The study also found that students who frequently viewed music videos and talk shows and who strongly identified with the main characters in television programs also reported a greater experience with the types of activities frequently featured on TV, such as dating and sexual activity.

This study gives strong argument for parents to monitor their teens in both the real world (such as knowing their peers and whereabouts) and in the surreal world of television. It’s a good idea to know the show your teen is spending time watching and how often. What does your teen like to watch on TV?

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