Wednesday, November 5, 2008

TV, Teens, & Sex

According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenagers’ exposure to sexual content on TV is linked to teen pregnancies. The study found that teens exposed to high levels of sexual content on television were twice as likely to be involved in a pregnancy in the following three years as teens with limited exposure.
The study's lead author cautioned that exposure to TV is not the only factor relating to teen pregnancies. She stated, “we don’t think that [TV] is necessarily more significant than some of the family and neighborhood factors that can lead to teen pregnancies. But even when we removed all the other factors, we still saw a compelling link between a high exposure to sexual content on television and teen pregnancies.”
Additionally, the study's abstract states: 
This is the first study to demonstrate a prospective link between exposure to sexual content on television and the experience of a pregnancy before the age of 20. Limiting adolescent exposure to the sexual content on television and balancing portrayals of sex in the media with information about possible negative consequences might reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. Parents may be able to mitigate the influence of this sexual content by viewing with their children and discussing these depictions of sex.
It seems that I continue to be made aware of research challenging my decision to let my son watch TV. As for now, I limit his TV exposure as best I can, and as he matures, I intend on having some very honest conversations with him about what he sees on TV, on the computer, in magazines, and anywhere else that the media is present. I believe that is ultimately the best that we can do as parents - talk to our kids. It is impossible to protect them from everything, but it is very possible to talk to them about anything.

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