Viewing television

For a while, the effect of sexual content on youth’s behavior received very little attention from researchers. Fortunately, there has been a surge of information becoming available on this very topic. Not only are researchers publishing this information in scholarly journals, it is also receiving mainstream news attention!

The American Academy of Pediatrics (2004) found that adolescents who viewed more sexual content on tv were more likely not only to have intercourse but to progress to more advanced activities than adolescents how did not. Furthermore, they found that parents can reduce this effect by monitoring what their child watches and discussing their own beliefs about what is present on television.

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Additionally, while this effect has not been widely researched until just recently, there were studies done that indicated this was a problem decades ago. For example, Elizabeth Roberts (1982) believed that media may plays an especially important role in the socialization of sexual knowledge, attitudes and behavior for the following reasons:
· 1) the adult nature of most programming children watch;

· 2) children’s limited access to or experience with countervailing information or ideas;

· 3) the ‘realism’ with which roles, relationships, and lifestyles are portrayed; and

· 4) the overwhelming consistency of the messages about sexuality that are communicated” (Roberts, 1982, p. 209).

If you are more interested in the history of this topic, a good article to read is:

Huston, A. C., Wartella, E., Donnerstein, E. I., Scantlin, R., & Kotler, J. (1998). Measuring the effects of sexual content in the media: a report to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Menlo Park, CA: The Foundation.

Can you think of some other behaviors that could be linked to television viewing?
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The most obvious is violence. Not only do some television shows make violence seem cool, but some television shows even tell individuals how to conduct violent acts and get away with it. Those who do not have a stable family environment may turn to these shows to learn about life and this may lead to very serious and negative consequences for the individual and those …

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