Monday, November 29, 2010

Sexualization of Girls - What Parents Can Do

In its recent report on sexualization of girls in the media, the American Psychological Association reported numerous negative impacts of the powerful message that what matters is “how hot you look.” The pressure to be thin, beautiful and sexy can have devastating results on developing girls.

According to the APA research, when combining television, Internet and video games, children use media an average of 6 ½ hours per day. Girls now equal boys in video game use as well as Internet use. The researchers explain, “Massive exposure to media among youth creates the potential for massive exposure to portrayals that sexualize women and girls and teach girls that women are sexual objects.”

However, parents can still have a powerful influence on how their children interpret media messages and make healthy choices for themselves. For example, the APA recommends teaching girls to value themselves for who they are, rather than how they look; and teaching boys to value girls as friends, sisters and girlfriends rather than sexual objects.

They also suggest that parents “tune in and talk.” Watch, listen and read the same media your children are using and talk to them about it. Ask them what they think and listen carefully to what they tell you. Also speak up if you don’t like a TV show, video, music lyrics or even a doll. Let your children know what you object to and why.

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